Copyright 1997 by R.J. CADRANELL
from Arabian Visions Sept/Oct 1997
Used by permission of RJ Cadranell
221b Baker Street: “We met next day and inspected the rooms at 221b Baker Street and at once entered into possession.” — Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, A Study in Scarlet
Fifteen or more years ago I acquired a reprint of the 1917 catalog of England’s Crabbet Arabian Stud. The catalog for the 1917 season gives details of the Crabbet Stud as it was at the end of 1916. It lists all of the broodmares, stallions, and young stock — 81 horses in all.
Back in 1906, the Crabbet Stud’s founders, Wilfrid and Lady Anne Blunt, had separated. They divided the stud, after which Wilfrid Blunt managed his “Newbuildings Half” apart from Lady Anne’s “Crabbet Half.”
The 1917 catalog seemed to list both halves of the stud. But I noticed a glaring omission: where was Rustem? Lady Anne Lytton remembered Rustem as “a very favorite stallion” of her grandfather Wilfrid Blunt, and Rustem had been one of the Crabbet Arabian Stud’s chief sires from the time he was three.
Then I noticed another gap: where was Abla? Rosemary Archer had written in The Crabbet Arabian Stud, Its History and Influence: “Abla became Wilfrid Blunt’s favorite riding mare.” The catalog included Abla’s 1915 filly Arusa, but Abla herself was absent.
A pattern was emerging: both missing animals were favorites of Wilfrid Blunt’s. But all the rest of the Newbuildings horses–among them Ibn Yashmak and *Nureddin II–seemed to be included.
Years later I had a chance to study additional Crabbet Stud catalogs from the Partition years. The available catalogs–for 1907, 1908, 1909, 1911, 1912, 1914, 1915, and 1916–list just the horses in Lady Anne’s Crabbet Half. There is also a 1913 catalog, with a slightly modified format, listing just the Newbuildings Half. Comparing these to the 1917 catalog indicates that the two halves were united during 1916, with Wilfrid Blunt retaining his two favorites, Rustem and Abla.
But a reunited Crabbet Stud ran counter to what I had always understood of its history. Hadn’t Wilfrid and Lady Anne failed to reach an agreement on the future of the stud when they met in 1915? Didn’t Blunt manage his portion separately right until Lady Anne died at the end of 1917? Didn’t the existence of two halves at the time of Lady Anne’s death fuel the lawsuit fought between Blunt and his daughter Judith (Lady Wentworth) over the ownership of the horses? I decided to scan Rosemary Archer’s book again, looking for clues, and found the following passage:
On October 13th , Lady Anne signed the “new stud agreement which makes me sole owner” of the Crabbet Arabian Stud. Blunt, however, refused to sign it, alleging that it contained a “dangerous” clause… He nevertheless appears to have acquiesced in the new arrangement; five months later, in March, 1916, he and Caffin [agent for both the Crabbet and Newbuildings estates] were planning the removal to Crookhorn [a farm Blunt owned near Newbuildings] of what remained of the Newbuildings section of the Stud, on the following Saturday “which is Lady Day when my separate ownership of it comes to a final end” (p. 150).
Later in 1916 when Lady Anne prepared the Crabbet Stud catalog for the 1917 season, she added 23 Newbuildings horses (see sidebar) to what she had owned the year before. This bolsters Lady Wentworth’s claim in her Authentic Arabian Horse that “in 1915 the whole remaining stock was repurchased by, or made over to, Crabbet Park.”
These horses afford a look at a decade of selection by Wilfrid Blunt, apart from Lady Anne. Even though each party had the right to use the other’s stallions without fee, these horses show a high concentration of the Newbuildings sires: Rijm and *Astraled from the years immediately after the Partition; Ibn Yashmak and Rustem later on. The stallions Lady Anne used during the Partition — in particular Daoud and *Berk — are scarcely represented at all.
Many bloodlines were duplicated, of course: Newbuildings had *Nureddin II and Nessima, while the Crabbet Half had their full brother *Nasik. Crabbet had Feysul, and Newbuildings had his son Ibn Yashmak. Crabbet had Rustem’s full sisters Rim and Riyala. Newbuildings had Selima, while Crabbet had her full brother Sotamm.
Other bloodlines were unique to one half or the other. Lady Anne had lost the Queen of Sheba family in tail-female, for example. Newbuildings also had the stud’s only remaining descendants of the imported mares Ferida and Meshura. And Lady Anne had bloodlines Wilfrid lacked, for example the lines from Basilisk, Bint Helwa, and Rosemary.
Anyone could be proud of the record of several of the Newbuildings-bred horses Wilfrid Blunt turned over to Lady Anne in 1916. *Nureddin II became an influential sire under Lady Wentworth’s ownership of the stud. *Ferda left a daughter in England, then was sold to California’s Kellogg Ranch in 1926, where she was arguably that program’s single most important foundation mare. *Nafia and *Felestin were imported to the U.S. in 1918, where they left descent. Fejr, Nessima, and Selima became broodmares for Lady Wentworth. Fejr’s sons became important in England, but she also had a daughter sent to Poland, where she produced *Sulejman. Selima had foals exported to Russia (Star of the Hills), Poland (Sardhana), and the U.S. (*Selmian) — all became influential.
The Newbuildings Half
Horses from Wilfrid Blunt appearing in the 1917 Crabbet catalog
stallions & colts
mares & fillies
foals of 1916
Lady Anne Lytton quoted in Mary Jane Parkingon’s The Kellogg Arabian Ranch, the First Fifty Years, p. 67.↩
221b Baker Street: Lady Wentworth in the London Times
Copyright 1993 by R.J.CADRANELL from Arabian Visions Mar/Apr 1993 Used by permission of RJ Cadranell
Founded in 1878 by Wilfrid and Lady Anne Blunt, from 1920 to 1957 the Crabbet Arabian Stud was under the firm hand of their daughter Judith Blunt-Lytton, also known as Lady Wentworth. Lady Wentworth added the stallion Skowronek to the stud, picked and chose from among the “Blunt mares,” bought back horses her parents had sold, sold some they had kept, and set about breeding Arabian horses to suit her own ideals and tastes. The Depression and Second World War put a crimp on her breeding activities, but after 1945 she expanded her program and Crabbet was going full blast when Lady Wentworth died in August of 1957. She left behind a herd of about 75 head.
Lady Wentworth continued her parents’ practice of selling horses all over the world. All of today’s major breed subdivisions benefited from Crabbet breeding. In 1936 Lady Wentworth sold a large draft to Russia’s Tersk Stud, including the key animals Naseem, Rissalma, and Rixalina. Her sale to Egypt in 1920 included the stallions Kasmeyn, Sotamm, and Hamran as well as the mares Bint Riyala and Bint Rissala. Five Skowronek daughters were among the horses she sold to Spain’s Duke of Veragua, and of these Reyna founded a particularly strong dam line. To Poland she sold the stallion Rasim and the mare Sardhana; in more recent decades horses from Tersk have brought additional Crabbet lines to the Polish state studs. To America she sent such key breeding animals as *Serafix, *Raffles, *Raseyn, *Rissletta, *Nasik, and *Ferda.
Lady Wentworth’s obituary in the London Times ran on August 10, 1957. The headline read “Lady Wentworth, Breeder of Arab Horses” and a surprising amount of the text was devoted to the Crabbet Arabians:
Baroness Wentworth died in hospital at Crawley, Sussex, on Thursday night at the age of 84.
As a leading breeder of Arab horses and as a writer of books on breeding, Lady Wentworth carried on the tradition of the Crabbet stud which had been built up by her father and mother. In her independence of mind, her eccentricities, her artistic pursuits, and her stormy domestic relations she reflected her ancestry — both her father, Wilfrid Scawen Blunt, the traveler and poet, and her maternal great-grandfather, Lord Byron.
Judith Anne Dorothea Blunt-Lytton, Baroness Wentworth, as sixteenth holder of the peerage, was the only daughter of Wilfrid Scawen Blunt and Lady Anne King-Noel, who as a child of the Earl of Lovelace was a granddaughter of Lord Byron, the poet. In youth she was a society beauty and her appearance made a strong impression on Burne-Jones, for some of whose last studies she sat. “She gives me the impression,” he said, “of perfect beauty combined with the speed and lightness of foot of some wild creature.” The second part of this tribute was not merely fanciful, for Lady Wentworth was a fine athlete. She became a champion royal tennis player, a game that is not generally regarded as suitable for women, and she built her own court at Crabbet. She was also a good squash player and went on playing the game until late in life.
In 1899 she married Neville Stephen Lytton, son of the second [actually first] Earl of Lytton. The marriage took place in Cairo. The bride was given away by Lord Cromer, the Resident, who to the Queen’s inquiry about the ceremony sent the laconic reply, “Marriage duly performed.” She later became estranged first from her father with whom she had differences of opinion about the management of the Crabbet estates, and afterwards from her husband, from whom she was divorced in 1923. Her mother succeeded to the Barony of Wentworth a few months before her death in 1917, when it devolved by special remainder on Judith Blunt-Lytton. The new Lady Wentworth lived for the rest of her life at Crabbet Park in the grounds of which her father was buried.
She inherited from her parents the love of the desert and of the horse of the desert, the Arabian, and the “feeling for the desert” never left her. After her mother’s death she took over the Crabbet stud which the unfortunate quarrels of her parents had allowed to reach a very low level, and gradually built it up to the dominating position which undoubtedly it holds to-day. There is hardly a stud in this country or abroad which does not owe its existence to one or other of the Crabbet stock. As a breeder she probably had few equals; she combined a voluminous knowledge of pedigree with a keen eye for a horse and with the means to breed on a big scale, and she had a certain flair or instinct which transcends scientific calculations. She was also a competent horse trainer and brought the business of preparing horses for the show ring to a fine art. The foundation of the modern Crabbet stud was undoubtedly the almost legendary Skowronek, a pure bred Arab foaled in Poland, whose sire was hanged in the market place by the revolutionaries of 1917; he was saved from a like fate by being bought for Mr. Walter Winans just before the First World War, after which Lady Wentworth acquired him. From this foundation has flowed the long line of champion Arab sires and mares which have dominated the show ring for many years in almost every country of the world.
A character as strong as Lady Wentworth’s could hardly keep out of controversy; indeed, like the Biblical warhorse which she loved so much, she probably “smelled the battle from afar” and she was a doughty opponent. Just after the war she became involved in a violent controversy within the Arab Horse Society over the height and size of Arab horses in England. After much acrimony she won her point that there should be no limiting the size of the Arab horses in English shows.
At Crabbet she used also to breed dogs and her toy spaniels won innumerable championships. In later years she gave an increasing share of her time to her painting and her poetry. Among her books are two major works: Thoroughbred Racing Stock and its Ancestors (1938), and The Authentic Arabian Horse and His Descendants (1945).
She is survived by her son, the fourth Earl of Lytton, to whom the [Wentworth] title descends, and by her two daughters.
A Requiem Mass was celebrated on August 14 at the Franciscan Friary in Crawley. The burial took place afterwards. According to the London Times of August 15, among those present were:
The Earl and Countess of Lytton (son and daughter-in-law), Lady Anne Lytton and Lady Winifrid Tryon (daughters), Viscount Knebworth, the Hon. Roland Lytton and Lady Caroline Lytton (grandchildren).
The Hon. Mrs. R.E.L. Vaughan-Williams, Colonel Sir Henry Abel Smith, Mr. Gordon Blunt, Mr. Ronald Armstrong-Jones, Q.C., Mr. K.W. Cumming (president) and Colonel D.R. Hewitt (representing Arab Horse Society), Mr. Geoffrey Cross (representing Royal Windsor Horse Show Club), Miss C. Draper (librarian St. Anne’s College, Oxford), Mrs. H.V. Musgrave Clark, Mr. Nigel Napier, Mr. R.W.F. Staveacre, Mrs M. Odell, Mr. R.S. Summerhays (representing National Pony Society), Dr. R.A. Matthews, Mr. and Mrs Cecil Covey, Mr. Gladstone Moore.
Lady May Abel Smith and Sir John and Lady Blunt were among those unable to attend.
Wilfrid Blunt was buried in the woods behind his house Newbuildings Place, about sixteen miles away from Crabbet.↩
In a February, 1958 Arabian Horse News article, Count Joseph Potocki presented a different account of Skowronek’s sire Ibrahim: “Some communist soldiers led him out of his box stall during the Revolution as other horses were being taken. Whereupon, that generally quiet and kindly horse began to react violently and would not be taken away. The troopers, in their irritation, killed him on the spot with their swords. The incident is described in a well known book ‘Pozoga’ by Zofia Kossak Szcyucka, who was there at the time.”↩
Copyright 1990 by R.J. CADRANELL from Arabian Visions March 1990
Used by permission of RJ Cadranell
Judith Blunt was five years old when the first Arabians arrived at Crabbet Park in 1878. By the time she died in 1957, she had spent 79 years with the breed, and the Crabbet Stud had owned or bred more than a thousand horses. Her position was unique. Modern Arabian horse breeding in the English-speaking world dates from 1874. Lady Wentworth was a part of it, originally as an observer and later as a dominant force, almost from the beginning. Many Americans became involved with the Arabian horse during the 1940s and 1950s, when the breed was moving out of the realm of rare breeds and into the equestrian mainstream. These people owned and bred their horses in Lady Wentworth’s shadow. This titled aristocrat had been involved with the breeding of Arabian horses longer than most of them had been alive. She had bred some of the most cherished ancestors in the pedigrees of their horses: *Raffles, *Raseyn, and *Rissletta (dam of Abu Farwa). She lived on a fabled estate almost none of them had ever seen. Her death brought with it the awe and dismay which accompanies the demise of hallowed institutions expected to last forever.
Lady Wentworth kept her distance, secluding herself at Crabbet. Her many books loudly praise Crabbet horses and inadvertently give us glimpses of her eccentric personality, but it is impossible to look at her or her breeding program through them alone. Other sources aid our understanding of this key figure.
Lady Anne Blunt’s published Journals and Correspondence indicate that Judith’s interest in the stud was never desultory. Nonetheless, Lady Anne Blunt often expressed disappointment at her daughter’s apparent lack of interest in continuing the stud when she herself would be gone. After Lady Anne Blunt died and Judith inherited from her the title of Lady Wentworth, there was no doubt about her desire to control the Crabbet Stud
Lady Anne Blunt died at the end of 1917. Beginning in 1918, Wilfrid Blunt had been removing horses by night from the Crabbet stables and stockpiling them at his estate at Newbuildings. Lady Wentworth learned to lock her paddock gates. During the ensuing lawsuit, perhaps in anticipation of the court coming down on her father’s side, Lady Wentworth began gathering scattered Crabbet animals. She repurchased the stallion Nadir from George Ruxton. She also repurchased the mares Jask, Amida, and Kibla. Her son-in-law lent her Rish. She and her children forcibly removed the mare Riyala, a special favorite of Lady Wentworth’s, from her father’s stables. With these she had the makings of her own Crabbet program to rival her father’s at Newbuildings.
Lady Wentworth was 47 years old when the courts settled the lawsuit in her favor on March 5, 1920. The first Arabians returned from Newbuildings on April 16. In the interim, Lady Wentworth had acquired a grey stallion named Skowronek. Skowronek was one of very few Arabians with no Crabbet ancestors which Lady Wentworth used for breeding, and the only one to become a part of her long-term program. He had been bred in Poland at Count Potocki’s Antoniny Stud. The Blunts had admired many of the Potocki mares during their visits to Antoniny, but their writings indicate they did not consider Antoniny a viable source of Crabbet foundation stock. The disputed Riyala was one of the first mares Lady Wentworth bred to Skowronek. She named the foal Revenge, and proceeded to weave Skowronek into the Crabbet tapestry.
When the horses returned to Crabbet, Lady Wentworth found herself the owner of between 80 and 90 Arabians. Many of these were excess colts and breeding stallions. She was able to reduce the herd by selling nearly 20 to Egypt’s Royal Agricultural Society. During the lawsuit, she had complained about her father turning horses into cash. Now that she was able to choose which horses would go and which stay home, sales were known as reducing the herd to a manageable size.
The period from 1920 to 1930 was a time of great experimentation at Crabbet. The genetic base was broad, and Lady Wentworth broadened it further with Skowronek blood and by continuing to reacquire Crabbet horses her parents had sold into other hands. The mare band was in full production, with nearly every mare covered every year. Lady Wentworth bred mares to a variety of sires, giving them a chance to show what they could produce by each. Lady Wentworth conducted a number of experiments in inbreeding. Rasim, *Nureddin II, and Skowronek all had the chance to sire foals out of their own daughters. Rasim was also bred to his dam, Risala. The most famous result of these consanguineous matings was *Raffles, a favorite of many American breeders from the late 1930s to the present. Among the horses Lady Wentworth returned to Crabbet during the 1920s were *Nureddin II, *Battla, Astola, Jawi-Jawi, Fejr, Nessima, Riz, and Rythma. She also bought the all Crabbet Savile-bred mare Julnar. In doing this, she was able to revive lines which had died out at Crabbet itself, in particular the Basilisk and Johara families. Halima briefly returned the Bint Helwa line. With Fejr to represent the Ferida family, Lady Wentworth was able to let the bay *Ferda go to the Kellogg Ranch in 1920.
Many of the horses Lady Wentworth bred during the 1920s travelled the globe and ended up changing the course of world Arabian breeding, whether in Australia, the United States, Poland, Brazil, Egypt, Russia, or Spain. Of those which stayed home for a time, among the most important to Crabbet’s future turned out to be Shareer, Naseem, Razina, Silver Fire, Rissam, Raseem, Ferhan, and Astrella.
Crabbet’s breeding peak under Lady Wentworth was in 1929, when nearly 30 broodmares were covered for 1930 foals. By 1931, the Depression had caught up with Crabbet. Lady Wentworth cut production by a third. The 1932 foal crop of eight was the smallest Wentworth crop yet. In 1933 only two foals were born. Although foal production expanded slightly in 1934 and 1935, Crabbet was overstocked and in financial trouble. A discouraged Lady Wentworth contemplated giving up the Crabbet Stud.
In 1936, however, a major reduction took place. Lady Wentworth sold 25 horses to Russia’s Tersk Stud, three to America’s Kellogg Ranch, and other horses went singly in 1936 or ’37 to new owners in Australia, Portugal, Brazil, Holland, and England. With numbers reduced and the genetic base narrowed, foal production at Crabbet continued on a limited basis as the Depression era abruptly ended and the war years began.
During the war Lady Wentworth’s aunt, Mary Lovelace, died and left her a large fortune. It marked the end of the financial problems which had hampered Lady Wentworth’s management of the Crabbet Stud from the beginning. In 1926 Lady Wentworth’s son, Anthony Lytton Milbanke, later the fourth Earl of Lytton, visited W.K. Kellogg. Kellogg had, earlier that year, bought a number of horses from Lady Wentworth. In a memo dated July 27, 1926, Kellogg recorded that “Mr. Milbanke stated that the propagating of horses by his mother had not proven profitable; he mentioned that this year had been an exception, and was the most profitable year that they had ever had.” This apparently refers to the more than $80,000 Kellogg had paid Lady Wentworth for his horses.
When the war ended, Lady Wentworth had been learning about Arabian breeding for 68 years. Despite the smaller numbers born during the Depression and war years, the breeding program had continued to advance. Of the horses born at Crabbet during the Depression, the most important to its future were Sharima, Indian Gold, Indian Crown, and Sharfina. If Lady Wentworth had spent the 1920s finding the way she wanted to go, then the 1930s saw the birth of the horses she needed to get there. During the war these elements began to come together in horses like Grey Royal, Silver Gilt, Indian Magic, Silfina, and *Serafina. By the spring of 1946, nothing stood in the way. Lady Wentworth was free to apply her knowledge to the production of horses which matched her ideals. Although foal production had increased toward the end of the war, the 1947 crop was the first to evidence the expanding breeding program. Ten foals was a large crop during the years between 1936 and 1946. After the war, Lady Wentworth’s foal crops again reached toward the mark of 20.
Post-war breeding at Crabbet produced its own distinctive stamp of Crabbet Arabian. Since 1920 Lady Wentworth had been culling the herd and selecting for the characteristics she most admired. The breeding she did in her later years stressed a few key animals, namely Raktha, Oran, Sharima, Silver Fire, Indian Gold, and Nisreen. Raktha and Oran were bred at Lady Yule’s Hanstead Stud from straight Crabbet bloodlines; Lady Wentworth bought them as youngsters. It is difficult to imagine post-war Crabbet without these two stallions. Writers often comment on Lady Wentworth’s knack for recognizing the potential of immature stock. Part of this was no doubt because she had spent her entire life watching animals of Crabbet breeding go from birth to old age. No one else was similarly qualified to predict how a young Crabbet Arabian would look at maturity. After the war, Lady Wentworth also added to her mare band from English studs using Crabbet lines. Included were Indian Flower and *Silver Crystal.
The movie footage of Lady Wentworth’s parades (what we in America might think of as “open houses”) of 1952 and 1953 document what she had achieved. With a remarkable degree of consistency, the films show us tall Arabians with upright carriage and lofty bearing. They are regal, magnetic animals with tremendous presence and arched necks. They seem to move well. Faults showing up in the herd with some frequency are long backs and a tendency to stand high behind. When Lady Wentworth died in August of 1957, she owned about 75 of these “Modern Crabbet” Arabians. To American breeders, the best known examples of Modern Crabbet horses are probably *Serafix, *Silver Vanity, and *Silver Drift. As impressive as these horses were, they replaced the wider variety of Arabian types which had graced Crabbet in earlier days.
With a few exceptions, Lady Wentworth stayed within the parameters of the Crabbet herd as her parents had defined it. The first and most lasting exception was Skowronek. By the time Lady Wentworth died, very few of her horses had pedigrees without Skowronek in them. In 1928 Lady Wentworth began using the stallion Jeruan, whose pedigree traced to the non-Crabbet desert-bred horses El Emir and Maidan. Lady Wentworth used none of his foals for breeding, but Roger Selby imported Jeruan’s daughter *Rishafieh to America, where she had a successful breeding career. In 1930 Lady Wentworth bred a number of mares to the Thoroughbred stallion Mighty Power, an experiment in Anglo-Arab breeding which apparently did not last at Crabbet. In 1946 Lady Wentworth purchased a remarkable yearling colt named Dargee. A sensationally successful show horse, Dargee traced to several non-Crabbet imported lines, namely those of Dwarka, Mootrub, El Emir, Ishtar, and Kesia II. Dargee was a successful cross on the Crabbet mares and Lady Wentworth did use his offspring Royal Crystal, Sirella, and Indian Peril for breeding, but that is the furthest extent to which she had incorporated him at the time of her death.
Many breeders of Arabian horses have suspected that certain coat colors are usually found in conjunction with recognizable types. Since there is no way to quantify a horse’s “look” in the scientific sense, the science of genetics is not yet able to tell whether this is so. Coat color was important to Lady Wentworth’s breeding program. She exhibited a preference for grey horses all her life. Her first recorded favorite in her mother’s Journals was the grey mare Basilisk, apparently the first Arabian she ever rode. Judith Blunt was six at the time.
The Blunts seem to have selected against grey to a certain extent. Greys were harder to sell to military remounts and government studs, a significant portion of the Blunts’ customer base. This was due to greys being easier targets on the battlefield, as well as grey hair being more obvious on dark uniforms. For the most part, it is only generals who are depicted on white horses. The last of the three grey sires the Blunts used was Seyal, sold to India in 1904. With the exception of a non-productive breeding to Rosemary, the GSB records that the Blunts restricted Seyal to grey mares. Mrs. Archer states that Judith was anxious for her mother to find another grey stallion for the stud, but that she was unsuccessful in her search (History and Influence, page 146.) During the lawsuit, Lady Wentworth claimed that her mother had intended for her to have every grey mare in the stud.
Reconstructed lists of the Crabbet herd at the time immediately after the settling of the lawsuit indicate that slightly more than half of the horses were bay or brown, a third were chestnut, and the remaining 15% were grey. The figures concur with Lady Anne Lytton’s recollection of the period, recorded in her article “Memories of the Crabbet Stud,” from the August, 1963 Arabian Horse Journal: “…bays were more common than chestnuts…[but] when Lady Wentworth took over the Stud I think she found that the quality among the chestnuts was much higher, with a few notable exceptions. At the time of her death there was not a bay left at Crabbet. She was not very fond of bays…” *Nizzam was one of the last bays foaled at Crabbet.
To speak today of an Arabian of “Crabbet Type” is a misleading oversimplification. Among Lady Wentworth’s horses, *Raffles and Grand Royal come to mind as two vastly different extremes. The Blunts owned animals as different from one another as Rijm and Sobha. Today, finding an Arabian of pure Crabbet pedigree is as difficult as finding one with no Crabbet blood at all. In a 1% sampling of 80 pedigrees from vol. XL (1982) of our stud book, the writer found that every one had Crabbet ancestry, including those in the pure Polish and straight Spanish categories. In spite of the present dilution of Crabbet blood, and in spite of the variety of horses Crabbet owned, certain ancestors reappear again and again in their descendants. Once familiar with them, it is possible to recognize the influences of Rodania, Mesaoud, Skowronek, Sharima, Feluka, and the rest of the pantheon of Crabbet luminaries.
Index to English-Bred Arabians Named Above
1913 cm Ibn Yashmak/Ajramieh
1910 bm Rijm/Asfura
1929 cm Raseem/Amida
1915 gm Razaz/Bukra
1945 cs Manasseh/Myola
G. H. Ruxton
1899 cm Mesaoud/Ferida
1913 bm Rustem/Feluka
1925 cs *Raswan/Fejr
1911 cm Rijm/Feluka
1947 cs Oran/Sharima
1942 gm Raktha/Sharima
1916 bm Razaz/Hamasa
1935 cm Raseem/Nisreen
1939 cm Irex/Nisreen
Miss I. Bell
1934 cs Ferhan/Nisreen
1945 gs Raktha/Indian Crown
1952 cm Dargee/Indian Pearl
1910 gm *Berk/Jellabieh
1912 cm Rijm/Jiwa
1920 cs Nureddin II/Rose of Persia
1911 cm *Abu Zeyd/Kabila
1900 gm Mesaoud/Makbula
1901 bs Mesaoud/Nefisa
1922 gs Skowronek/Nasra
1909 bm Rijm/Narghileh
1919 bm *Nureddin II/Nasra
1943 bs Rissam/Nezma
1911 cs Rijm/Narghileh
1940 cs Riffal/Astrella
1926 gs Skowronek/*Rifala
1934 gs Naseem/Razina
1922 cs Rasim/Riyala
1923 gs Skowronek/Rayya
1906 cs Feysul/Risala
1922 cm Rasim/Riyala
1921 gs Skowronek/Riyala
1901 cs Mahruss/*Rose of Sharon
1900 cm Mesaoud/Ridaa
1903 bm Nejran/Rabla
1930 cm Jeruan/Rishafa
1928 cs Naseem/Rim
1930 cm Naseem/Risslina
1905 cm *Astraled/Ridaa
1916 bm Razaz/*Rijma
1886 bm Jeroboam/Rodania
1952 gs Dargee/Grey Royal
1914 bm *Berk/Risala
1945 cm Indian Gold/Sharfina
1949 cs Raktha/*Serafina
1897 gs Mesaoud/Sobha
1923 bs *Nureddin II/Selima
1937 cm Rytham/Sharima
1932 cm Shareer/Nashisha
1944 cm Indian Gold/Sharfina
1937 gm Rangoon/Somara
1951 gs Raktha/*Serafina
1926 gm Naseem/Somra
1943 gm Indian Gold/Silver Fire
1950 gs Oran/Silver Gilt
1953 cm Dargee/Shalina
Arab Horse Society, The. The Arab Horse Stud Book 7 vols. England, 1919-52.
Archer, Rosemary, Colin Pearson, and Cecil Covey. The Crabbet Arabian Stud. Gloucestershire, 1978.
Archer, Rosemary, and James Fleming, editors. Lady Anne Blunt, Journals and Correspondence. Gloucestershire, 1986.
Blunt, Wilfrid S. My diaries. 2 vols. New York, 1922.
Kellogg Ranch Papers, The. Collection held by California State Polytechnic University, Pomona, California.
London Times, February 20 & 21, 1920.
Parkinson, Mary Jane, The Kellogg Arabian Ranch. 1977.
Weatherby & Sons. The General Stud Book, vols. 13-35, London, 1877-1965.
Wentworth, Lady. The Authentic Arabian Horse. 3rd., 1979.
Copyright 1997 by R.J. CADRANELL
from Arabian Visions Mar/Apr 1997
Used by permission of RJ Cadranell
Next to Crabbet, no English stud has been as important as Hanstead. Hanstead’s worldwide influence is particularly remarkable in light of the relatively short time it was in operation—not even 35 years of breeding—and the relatively small number of foals produced. There were barely 125, while Crabbet had more than a thousand spread over 93 years.
The Hanstead Stud owed its origin to Lady Yule, wife of merchant prince Sir David Yule. He and his brother Andrew amassed a fortune in India, estimated at up to 20 million pounds. David and Annie Henrietta Yule were married in 1900. Sir David Yule and his wife had just one child, a daughter named Gladys, born at Hanstead House in 1903. The Hanstead estate was in Hertfordshire, and there Lady Yule and her daughter Gladys took to breeding Thoroughbreds and Suffolk Punch horses, along with cattle and other livestock. Sir David Yule died in 1928 and is not known to figure directly in the story of the Hanstead Stud.
Lady Yule “first became interested in Arabs on seeing the gallant carriage and action of a pair of Arabs regularly driven to York, from his home, by Major Wailes-Fairburn.”
Razina (Rasim x Riyala).
Lady Yule wanted to try her hand at Anglo-Arab breeding, thus on July 11, 1925, she and her daughter Gladys visited Lady Wentworth’s Arabian stud at Crabbet Park. That year at Hanstead the Thoroughbred mare Tarantella produced a filly by the Crabbet stallion *Nasik; this may have been the cause of Lady Yule’s visit to Crabbet. But before the day was out, Lady Yule had purchased a young Arab mare named Razina. Razina had been sold to Ireland but recently repurchased by Crabbet in foal to the Thoroughbred stallion Mighty Power. It is not clear whether Lady Yule liked Razina’s looks or was simply interested in her anticipated Anglo-Arab foal. Nonetheless Arabian breeders around the world can be glad Lady Yule chose the mare she did.
Razina later won five gold medals, establishing Hanstead as a power in the show ring. Razina’s broodmare career, however, established her place in history. After producing the Anglo-Arab filly Razzia in 1926, Razina was never mated to another Thoroughbred.
Razina was not covered in 1926 because of a railway strike, but in 1927 Lady Yule sent her to the Arabian stallion Almulid (Skowronek x Alfarouse), bred and owned by the Hon. Mrs. R. E. L. Vaughan Williams. The resulting filly, Rasana, soon joined her mother as a Hanstead broodmare, bringing the Arabian mare band to a total of two. Rasana turned out to be a poor mother whose foals had to be raised by hand; she was put down in 1937, and her two fillies not retained.
Raktha (Naseem X Razina)
Lady Wentworth was unhappy when she learned Lady Yule was using Razina for purebred breeding. For the next several years, Lady Yule sent her mares to outside stallions, but did not have access to those at Crabbet. Instead she used horses of entirely or largely Crabbet blood. These horses included C.W. Hough’s Nuri Sherif (*Nureddin II x Sheeba) and Akal (Shelook x Almas), and Capt. the Hon. George Savile’s Joseph (Nadir x Maisuna). Of the six foals produced in these early years, only Nurschida (Nuri Sherif x Razina) had influence on the later Hanstead program. Through her sire, Nurschida carried one line to Miss Dillon’s imported stallion Maidan, thus was not quite “pure Crabbet,” although like all Hanstead Arabians, Nurschida was registered in the Arabian section of Weatherby’s General Stud Book (GSB).
In 1932 the Hanstead mare band expanded. Mr. and Mrs. Kent, known to the pony breeding fraternity, visited Crabbet and purchased two young mares. In less than a week the mares turned up at Hanstead. They were chestnut Astrella (Raseem x Amida) and grey Naxina (Skowronek x Nessima). Lady Wentworth had used a similar ploy to acquire Skowronek in 1920. The ice between Lady Wentworth and Lady Yule broke not long after this episode, and in 1933 Lady Yule sent all five of her Arabian mares to Crabbet for breeding.
The 1934 foal crop included Hanstead’s first sire prospects, the greys Raktha and Grey Owl. Of the two colts produced prior to 1934, Halil Sherif was gelded “as he had not got a perfect Arab head or eyes.” He was hunted with the Heythrop Hunt in 1933-34, jumping anything asked, and later took up dressage, giving a performance at the International Horse Show, Olympia. Kehelan was sold to Scotland for crossing on Highland mares. He proved infertile, and later found a home with the Bertram Mills Circus. After that he became the first Arabian owned by Mrs. Linney, later a well known breeder in England, and owner of another Yule-bred horse: Mikeno, purchased in 1952.
It could be debated endlessly whether the Yules had a knack for choosing sires, or whether they simply had in Razina the beginning of a mare family with which it was scarcely possible to go wrong. Probably both were factors. According to Miss Yule’s companion and stud manager, Miss Patricia Wold, Gladys Yule believed in using only the best sires and wanted the Arab Horse Society to inspect the conformation and type of all stallions before approving them for breeding.
To return to Raktha, he swept the show ring in 1937, and that year it was noted that “much interest and amusement has been caused by the various opinions as to which is the best, Grey Owl or Raktha.” Although Grey Owl did leave several lines, 60 years of breeding have proven Raktha the more influential of the two. Lady Wentworth bought Raktha in 1939, and from 1940 until his sale to South Africa in 1951 he was one of Crabbet’s chief sires.
During the 1930s the Hanstead mares continued to visit outside stallions. Lady Yule patronized Crabbet’s Naseem, Raseem, Faris, Naufal, and Naziri. Lady Yule is the only outside breeder recorded in the stud books as sending a mare to Naseem. Rosemary Archer explains this was because no other breeders in England could afford the high stud fees Lady Wentworth charged at that time for her best stallions.
In 1936 two more sire prospects were born at Hanstead: Riffal (of whom more later) and Naseel. Naseel was a classic 14.1 hand grey, sold as a yearling to Mrs. Nicholson in Ireland. Describing Naseel as a riding horse, she wrote in the Spring, 1960, Arab Horse Society News,
“I was thrilled. I had never ridden an Arab horse before, let alone a stallion, and I just couldn’t believe the joy that he gave me.”
Naseel became a successful sire of children’s show ponies as well as purebreds. Naseel’s sire was Raftan (Naseem x Riyala), bred at Crabbet but owned elsewhere. Naseel was invited to make a special appearance at the Arab Horse Society’s 1956 Summer Show, where he and his progeny paraded in front of the Queen.
Another outside horse Hanstead used in the 1930s was George Ruxton’s Algol (Dwarka x Amida), who sired Namilla for Lady Yule. The last time an outside stallion was used was 1939, when Razina and Nurschida went to Shihab (Algol x Almas).
In 1938 or 1939 Lady Yule acquired the last of her foundation mares by trading Ghezala to Lady Wentworth for the Rissam daughter Niseyra. Through her son Blue Domino, Niseyra was to be just as important as the earlier acquisitions.
Lady Yule seems to have brought home no more than three stallions in her entire career as a breeder. One was Radi, the foal Razina had had in 1925. He was acquired from Crabbet during the early part of the war years and was used at Hanstead before returning to Crabbet. Lady Yule seems to have made a special effort to work Rissam into the herd. In 1940, five out of the six Yule mares were bred to Rissam. No other Hanstead sire ever dominated a single foal crop to this extent. Only Rissam’s daughter Niseyra had a 1941 foal by a different horse, although Lady Yule would try her with Rissam the following year—the only close inbreeding at Hanstead recorded in the stud books.
Although Radi and Rissam each sired a few important foals at Hanstead, the most brilliant acquisition was Rissalix (Faris x Rissla), purchased from Crabbet in 1940. Known for his quality and brilliant action, a better cross for the Hanstead mares could scarcely have been found. Yet another example of Hanstead’s worldwide success despite tiny numbers, Rissalix sired fewer than 20 Yule-bred foals of record, but they include such as *Count Dorsaz, Blue Domino, Mikeno, and Pale Shadow (dam of Bright Shadow). Rissalix was one of the few horses Lady Wentworth later regretted selling, but owing to labor shortages after the start of the war it was necessary to reduce the number of stallions at Crabbet.
The decade of cooperation between Crabbet and Hanstead came to a close toward the end of the war. Lady Yule tried to buy from Crabbet a colt named Indian Grey, full brother to Indian Magic, but Lady Wentworth refused to sell. In 1943, shortly after, Lady Wentworth made an offer on Oran, but Lady Yule retaliated and turned it down. Instead, she sold Oran to Mr. C. McConnell in 1944, who sold him to the British Bloodstock Agency, which sold him to Lady Wentworth later the same year. When Lady Yule learned that Oran was at Crabbet, relations were broken off. Oran did leave his daughter Umatella at Hanstead, but it was at Crabbet, where his blood was frequently combined with Raktha’s, that he achieved his fame as a sire.
Crabbet and Hanstead emerged from the war years as rivals, both in the show ring and the marketplace. The stud was now under the direction of Miss Gladys Yule, as Lady Yule gave the horses to her daughter in 1946. Lady Yule died on July 14, 1950.
In the post-war years Hanstead was a mature stud, with a band of 10 to 15 mares and a battery of homebred stallions standing alongside and later succeeding Rissalix and Radi. In addition to Grey Owl, these included:
Colorados (Radi x Astrella) was a three-quarter brother to Crabbet’s famous sire Oran.
Riffal, a brown horse foaled 1936, and already a show winner as a yearling. He matured to 16 hands and a quarter inch. Because most of his Hanstead career took place during the war years, his opportunity at stud was limited, but true to the Hanstead pattern, he achieved much with his few foals, which included Oran. In 1947 Mrs. Maclean bought him and the young mare Carlina for her stud in Australia. Riffal became a major influence there.
Salinas (Grey Owl x Shamnar)
Suvorov (Rissalix x Razina), as a son of Hanstead’s most influential foundation mare and stallion, might have proven an important sire, but he was not fertile.
Sala (Grey Owl x Hama) was grey, sold to the New South Wales Department of Agriculture and exported to Australia in 1949. There he sired more than 100 foals, and has perpetuated the rare male line of Crabbet foundation sire Feysul.
*Count Dorsaz (Rissalix x Shamnar)
*Count Dorsaz (Rissalix x Shamnar) was one of the many Hanstead horses exhibited under saddle. At the Royal International Horse Show he was twice awarded the Winston Churchill Cup for the supreme riding horse. He inherited and passed on a full measure of the Rissalix action. By 1956 he had also won nine first prizes in hand.
General Grant (Raktha x Samsie) carried two crosses to Razina and was typical of what may be thought of as Hanstead type: a deep-bodied horse of quality, good balance and substance, and obvious Arabian character. General Grant was later owned by the Hedleys. He sired many British champions.
Blue Domino (Rissalix x Niseyra) ranks among the most famous horses bred at Hanstead. Although not tracing to Razina, he seems to have had much the same proportions as, for example, General Grant. This stamp of horse is also apparent in Rissam, Blue Domino’s grandsire. A dark chestnut color, Blue Domino won acclaim in the show ring as a young horse and sired a long list of internationally influential horses. A 1956 Hanstead ad noted that his “stock are very promising, good movers with good heads.”
*Count Orlando (*Count Dorsaz x Umatella) was the Arab Horse Society’s Junior Male Champion in 1954, and was awarded the Winston Churchill Cup in 1956. He was sold to the United States in 1960.
Rissalix (Faris x Rissla)
Mikeno (Rissalix x Namilla, by Algol) was sold to Mrs Linney in 1952.
Bright Shadow (Radi x Pale Shadow, by Rissalix), bred from Hanstead sire and dam, was another to stand at Crabbet
Count Manilla (*Count Dorsaz x Namilla) represented several generations of Hanstead breeding on both sides of his pedigree. He won first prize stallion under saddle at Roehampton in 1956. Count Manilla was sold to Australia in 1957, where he sired about 80 foals.
Rifaria (Rifari x Meccana, by Riffal) was another horse who stood at Hanstead in the 1950s. He was one of the few outcrosses Gladys Yule introduced.
Iridos (Irex x Rafeena) was a son of one of the two new mares Gladys Yule added to the stud. In 1950 Rafeena arrived with her Irex filly, *Reenexa. She was in foal to Irex again, and produced the grey colt Iridos in 1951.
*Minta was Gladys Yule’s other addition to the stud. A granddaughter of Rissam and Irex, she was less an outcross than an added source of lines already tried in the stud.
Lady Wentworth never had much room for visiting mares, so smaller breeders in England were grateful to Miss Gladys Yule for making available stallions like Rissalix, General Grant, *Count Dorsaz, and Blue Domino to the public.
During the 1930s, 40s, and 50s, Hanstead joined Crabbet and Courthouse in dominating the British show ring. A look at Deirdre Hyde’s 40 Years of British Arab Horse Champions shows nine of the first 40 titles going to horses bred by the Yules. An additional 17 winners had a parent bred at Hanstead. Only four horses (Dargee, Bahram, Sirella, and Celina) were without any Yule-bred ancestors. Many of Crabbet’s winners were sired by Oran or Raktha. And just as Hanstead had sent these two important sires to Crabbet, Hanstead also sent one to Courthouse. This was Champurrado, the first foal Niseyra produced for Lady Yule.
Gladys Yule served as president of the Arab Horse Society in 1949. She was also chairman of the Ponies of Britain Club, helping to preserve Britain’s native pony breeds. She strongly believed in Anglo-Arabs as superior horses for hunting, dressage, or eventing, and continued to breed these alongside her Arabians and Thoroughbreds. She also bred Jersey and Aberdeen Angus cattle.
Early in 1957 an article in the Arab Horse Society News noted that 20 Hanstead Arabs had been sold overseas: four to Australia, 11 to South Africa, three to Holland, and two to Canada. Nor was there any shortage of promising young stock in 1957. The young stallions coming on included the show winners Blue Grotto and Samson, as well as *Little Owl: “Miss Yule has been longing to have a colt foal by Grey Owl, who has produced a long list of fillies through the years, so let us hope Little Owl will develop the presence and character of his magnificent sire.”
Among the young mares and fillies, the late Queen Zenobia’s daughters *Zulima, Zena, and *Princess Zia were admired, of which *Princess Zia was probably the most decorated in the show ring.
When Lady Wentworth died in August of 1957, Gladys Yule remarked “now we can go back to Crabbet.” But it was not to be. Within a few weeks she had also died. The estate taxes owed were reported in the Daily Mail to be in excess of 3 million pounds under headline “Last of a vanishing 20,000,000 pound fortune may go in taxes.” It was necessary to reduce the stud. The single largest group sold, consisting of about 14 head, went to Bazy Tankersley’s Al-Marah Arabians in the United States before the year was out. At the same time, Mrs. Tankersley purchased a similarly large group from Lady Wentworth’s executors, making it the single largest importation to arrive in America up to that time.
Miss Wolf sent a letter published in the Arab Horse Society News for autumn, 1958, explaining the situation with the remaining horses:
“I was left options on some Thoroughbreds, Arabs and Anglo-Arabs and therefore I retained in a small way some of the best of each. Since then foals have increased in number and it will not be long before there are more foals on the way and so I have felt that I must sell some more horses… These are to be sold by auction on November 27th here at Hanstead when all the saddlery, stable and stud equipment are sold…. I shall be moving to Aylesbury…. All the horses and the stud I retain are the property of the Exors. of the late Miss G.M. Yule and so for the time being I shall be the Manager.”
Many breeders in England established or added to their studs at the 1958 Hanstead auction. *Count Dorsaz was leased that year to Mrs. Tankersley, who bought him later. He proved an important sire for Al-Marah, and was later joined by *Ranix (a son of Rissalix and out of the Hanstead mare *Iorana).
By 1959 Gladys Yule’s band of 15 broodmares had been reduced to three. Of these Rafeena died the next year at age 20, and Umatella and Azella each produced one Blue Domino filly for Miss Wolf before moving on to new homes.
Finally just Blue Domino was left. He lived out his days surrounded by Miss Wolf’s Thoroughbreds and Anglo-Arabs, succumbing to intestinal cancer in October of 1966. But by then Hanstead breeding was firmly established in Arabian studbooks around the world.
Rosemary Archer, Colin Pearson, and Cecil Covey, The Crabbet Arabian Stud, Its History and Influence
Deirde Hyde, 40 Years of British Arab Horse Champions
Erika Schiele, The Arab Horse in Europe, section on Hanstead.
Rosemary Archer, “The Hanstead Stud,” Arabians, September 1984, p. 128.
Michael Bowling, “Razina at the Hanstead Stud” in CMK Record, spring 1991.
The Arab Horse Society News, issues from 1956 to 1960.
Undated clipping from the Daily Mail.
The General Stud Book; stud books of the Arabian Horse Registry of America and Arab Horse Society.
Jack Gannon, “Hanstead Stud,” Arab Horse Society News, spring 1957, p. 10.↩
The Journal of the Arab Horse Society, article on Hanstead Stud.↩
Look at the bottom of most pre-printed Arabian horse pedigree forms and you will likely find explanations of some standard abbreviations. For example, DB stands for Desert Bred, while PASB stands for Polish Arabian Stud Book, and GSB stands for the General Stud Book. What on earth is a General Stud Book?
Until about 30 years ago, the General Stud Book was a registration authority for Arabian horses in England. It was the stud book cited for the parents of virtually all horses imported from England’s Crabbet Arabian Stud, as well as many horses imported from other studs in England. But why was it called the General Stud Book rather than, for example, the British Stud Book?
The General Stud Book was the world’s first published stud book for any breed of livestock. Before the advent of the GSB, stud books were records kept by individual breeders and were specific to animals in a breeder’s own herd. The new compilation was known as a “general” stud book because it was general to the whole country. The preliminary edition of the GSB appeared in 1791. It was an example of the eighteenth century obsession with assembling enormous compendiums of knowledge, which included Dr. Johnson’s dictionary and the original encyclopædia. The GSB documents “Pedigrees of Race Horses” stretching “From the earliest Accounts” up to the closing date of each successive volume. Its compiler was James Weatherby, whose family continued to issue the GSB after him. Thus it is also known as “Weatherby’s stud book.”
The breed of horse that the GSB defined was the English Thoroughbred. The GSB demonstrates the Thoroughbred’s descent from Oriental sires and dams such as the Darley Arabian, the Leedes Arabian, and the Darcy Yellow Turk.
GSB Arabians in England: Volume XIII of the GSB appeared in 1877. This volume included a new Arabian section to register several horses recently imported to Britain from the desert near Aleppo. The first group, imported by Mr. Sandeman, had arrived in 1874. It included Yataghan and Haidee, sire and dam of *Naomi. The second importation, made by Mr. Chaplin, arrived in 1875. This group included the mare Kesia, carrying an in-utero foal named Kesia II. These early registrations were the beginning of current Arabian horse breeding in the English speaking world. The Arabian section was included in the GSB with the hope that the new imports would, in time, “give a valuable new line of blood from the original source of the English Thoroughbred.”
Volume XIV of the GSB was published in 1881. The Arabian section was expanded several pages by the first importations of Mr. Wilfrid and Lady Anne Blunt, who founded their Crabbet Arabian Stud with desert bred Arabian horses they imported to England in 1878. The Crabbet Stud was to endure so long and to achieve such fame that today “Crabbet” is far better known than the stud book which registered its bloodstock. Crabbet has taken a place alongside Egyptian, Polish, and Spanish as one of the Arabian breed’s major bloodline categories.
The Crabbet horses overshadowed the other animals in the Arabian section of the GSB, even though Crabbet horses were not the first and were never the only ones registered there. There are several reasons for this. First, Crabbet was the single largest importer of GSB registered Arabians: approximately 51 animals from 1878 to 1910, two-thirds of which are still in Arabian pedigrees. Second, the Crabbet horses were imported especially to become breeding stock at the Crabbet Stud – not brought to England as retired officers’ mounts or as curiosities. Third, the Crabbet Stud owned and bred more than a thousand Arabians during a period of over 90 years – so long that it even outlasted the Arabian section of the GSB. Fourth, nearly all the non-Crabbet GSB imports with lines still breeding today come down to us only in combination with Crabbet blood.
The Arabian section of the GSB contained many imported Arabian and other Eastern horses (including a Barb mare named Safed) which either had no registered offspring or whose lines quickly disappeared from the stud book. Other than the Blunt horses, only about a dozen imported GSB foundation animals found their way into modern Arabian pedigrees.
Most of the non-Crabbet GSB foundation animals were owned by, or otherwise connected to, the stud of the Hon. Miss Etheldred Dillon. She began her program with the 1880 importation of El Emir, and later acquired some horses from Crabbet. Also among Miss Dillon’s foundation stock were the mares Ishtar, Kesia II, and *Shabaka (Mameluke x Kesia II), as well as the stallion Maidan. Miss Dillon had Rev. Vidal’s mare *Naomi on her farm – and Vidal’s use of *Kismet as a sire introduced that horse to modern pedigrees.
At the turn of the century Miss Dillon’s program was winding down; other breeders introduced the last four horses. Mootrub is in pedigrees through two foals: a colt out of a mare of Dillon+Crabbet breeding, and a filly out of Shakra. Dwarka stood at stud for the Prince of Wales (later Duke of Windsor), who bred him to the Crabbet mares Amida and Rangha. And Skowronek, imported last, is perhaps the most famous of all the GSB founders. After Lady Anne Blunt died in 1917, her husband and her daughter, Judith Blunt-Lytton (Lady Wentworth), disputed the ownership of the Crabbet Stud. The dispute went to court, and in 1920 Lady Wentworth emerged as the stud’s sole owner. Also in early 1920 she purchased the white stallion Skowronek, imported several years earlier from Poland. Skowronek quickly became one of Crabbet’s chief sires.
Skowronek was hardly the last Arabian imported to England, but he was the latest import to gain access to the GSB. In 1913 the Jersey act had closed the GSB to imported Thoroughbreds unless their pedigrees traced in all lines to horses entered in previous volumes. A 1921 decision did the same thing for the Arabian section. Thus a “GSB Arabian” became an Arabian from a clearly defined, closed pedigree group. Britain’s Arab Horse Society (AHS) was founded in 1918, and published its first stud book in 1919. This was likely a factor in the decision of Weatherbys not to enter any more new Arabian imports – the GSB’s Arabian gene pool was sufficiently large to continue indefinitely. Why not let the new stud book of the Arab Horse Society register future imported Arabians?
Thus for the next 45 years, England had two stud book authorities registering Arabian horses. Weatherbys continued to register those Arabian bloodlines “eligible for GSB” – and there was strong incentive for British breeders to maintain GSB registration. For one, the export market was crucial to them. Often countries overseas might not have an Arabian stud book, but probably did have a stud book for Thoroughbreds. An Arabian with a GSB certificate could be entered in virtually any Thoroughbred stud book in the world.
From the first, the stud book of the Arab Horse Society allowed entry of new desert imports. As a registration authority for Arabian horses, it also entered imports from Poland, the United States, the U.S.S.R., and elsewhere. Most of the GSB Arabian foals carried “dual registration,” entered in both GSB and AHS. If a GSB foal did not appear in AHS, it was often because it had been exported young or died young.
The GSB continued to register Arabian foals until Weatherbys announced that as of January 1, 1965, the Arabian section would be discontinued. Rosemary Archer, owner and breeder of GSB Arabians since the late 1940s, described the response to this.
“…a strong representation was made by The Arab Horse Society asking [Weatherbys] to retain the Arabian section. . . . [Weatherbys] intimated that if the Arab horses registered in the G.S.B. had been used for crossing with Thoroughbreds to produce racehorses, they might have been interested in retaining the Arabian Section but there was no question of a reservoir of pure Arab blood being kept for possible future use…. ‘it is sad,’ Weatherby’s spokesman conceded, ‘after so many years, but there it is.’ “
Thus the stud book of the Arab Horse Society was left as the Arabian breed’s official registration authority in Great Britain, and GSB Arabian foals born 1965 and later did not carry Weatherbys registration. Nonetheless several breeders in Britain continued to breed GSB Arabians, whether “straight Crabbet” or carrying crosses to the non-Crabbet GSB founders. Beginning in the mid 1970s, imports of Arabians from around the world flowed to Britain in increasing numbers. While breeders in England today have a much wider selection of bloodlines, this has also meant that the older English bloodlines, including the “straight Crabbet” and GSB horses, are in danger of being crossed out of existence. As a means of fostering the breeding of these horses, A Catalogue of Arabians in Great Britain Descending from G.S.B. Registered Horses appeared in the early 1990s.
GSB Arabians in America have been present almost from the first. The earliest imported mare with descent in registered Arabian pedigrees was *Naomi. In the years before World War II when American breeders were laying in their foundation stock, GSB imports outnumbered those from any other source, including Poland, Egypt, and the desert itself. Into the 1930s, foals theoretically “eligible for GSB” if sent back to England made up fully one third of all U.S. registrations. Of the remaining two-thirds, most carried substantial Crabbet or other GSB ancestry.
The list of the GSB imports brought to America prior to World War II is a familiar litany. It is impossible to imagine traditional American Arabian breeding without these horses. The Roger Selby imports included *Raffles, *Indaia, *Rose of France, *Kareyma, and *Rifala. The W.K. Kellogg imports included *Raseyn, *Ferda, *Nasik, *Rifla, *Rossana, *Ferdin, *Rissletta, and *Crabbet Sura. W.R. Brown’s group contained *Berk, *Rijma, *Ramim, *Rokhsa, and *Simawa, among others. F.L. Ames brought in *Astraled, *Narda II, and *Noam, while Homer Davenport imported *Abu Zeyd. Spencer Borden brought us *Rose of Sharon, *Ghazala, *Shabaka, and *Rodan. Counting in-utero foals, there were 111 pre-World War II GSB imports in all, of which some 77 are still in pedigrees.
Our stud book shows another 28 GSB horses brought in between 1947 and 1956. These include *Ranix, *Silver Crystal, *Rithan, *Shamadan, *Sun Royal, *Serafix, and *Electric Storm.
In 1957 Lady Wentworth died, and so did her rival breeder Miss Gladys Yule of the Hanstead Stud. The heirs of both women were forced to reduce the herds. This enabled Bazy Tankersley of Al-Marah Arabians to assemble the largest single importation of Arabians to America up to that time. Among the horses were *Salinas, *Silwara, *Thorayya, *Little Owl, *Royal Diamond, and *Silwa. The stallion *Count Dorsaz joined them a year later. From 1957 to 1959 about 61 GSB horses, including the Al-Marah shipment, were imported by various parties.
Importations of GSB horses continued through the next several years, then tapered off toward the end of the 1960s, for a total of some 53 imports for that decade. The early 1960s brought *Nizzam, *Silver Vanity, *Oran van Crabbet, and *Silver Drift. The Lewisfield imports of the same era included *Fire Opal, *Touch of Magic, and *Lewisfield Magic. In 1966 came Bazy Tankersley’s *Royal Dominion.
Only 13 GSB horses were imported in the 1970s, of which one was *RAS Indian Silver. However the 1980s saw a renewal of interest in GSB horses, with 43 more imports. These included *Silvern Magic, *Sa’ika, *Achim NSB, *Odessa NSB, *Seffer, *Rimmon, and *Seyad.
Importations of all Arabians have slowed in the 1990s. To this writer’s knowledge, thus far the only registered import of GSB pedigree is *Star Reflection, imported in 1995.
Counting *Star Reflection, the Arabian Horse Registry of America has registered 311 imported horses of GSB pedigree. But another approximately 2,000 registrations are of GSB horses bred in the United States. Sixty years ago “GSB eligible” Arabians were about a third of all registrations. Now, they constitute less than half of one percent. This does not mean they have vanished from the gene pool, because most Arabians in America have some GSB blood somewhere in their pedigrees – and many are 50% or more GSB-derived. But “straight GSB” Arabians have become rare.
For years GSB stallions and their sons dominated the lists of top sires of American show winners. These GSB stallions included *Serafix, Ferseyn, Abu Farwa, Indraff, *Raffles, *Silver Drift, Aarief, *Count Dorsaz, Sureyn, Al-Marah Radames, Rapture, Aaraf, Gulastra, *Silver Vanity, and Al-Marah El Hezzez. But prominent sire lines in a breed can change rapidly. In the last 25 years other sire lines have taken a substantial market share away from the lines of Mesaoud, Mahruss, and Skowronek.
In the 70s and 80s marketing emphasis was placed on horses of “pure” or “straight” national origin. One might think this would have boosted the numbers of GSB and straight Crabbet Arabians. Paradoxically, it worked to their disadvantage. Many GSB mares were outcrossed to stallions of Polish and Egyptian lines. The outcrosses no doubt produced lovely horses, as such crosses did in past decades, but registrations of GSB foals in America skidded to new lows in the mid-1970s.
In the 1990s, with more Arabian horses and semen flying around the world than ever before, the traditional 20th century distinctions between national breeding groups are breaking down. In the interest of the Arabian breed’s genetic diversity, it makes sense to identify and conserve those living horses from distinctive breeding traditions. Among these are the GSB Arabians and their various subsets. These subsets include, for example, horses tracing entirely to Blunt imports, and horses of Blunt+Skowronek pedigree.
Arabian Visions offers a catalog of the GSB Arabians registered in the United States. It includes a complete pedigree index tracing GSB Arabians imported to America back to the original foundation horses imported to England, and quotes the entries for these horses from the GSB.
Notes: 1. Quoted from GSB Volume XIV. 2. Quoted from the introduction to A Catalogue of Arabians in Great Britain Descending from G.S.B. Registered Horses.
An Abbreviated History And Description of the Breeding Program
by Robert J. Cadranell II revised and copyrighted 1998 by RJ Cadranell II used by permission of RJ Cadranell II
Countless times writers have referred to the Crabbet Arabian Stud as the most influential privately owned Arabian stud in the world, and rightly so. The story of the Crabbet Stud and its visionary though eccentric founders, Mr. Wilfrid and Lady Anne Blunt, is the subject of many articles and books written over the years. However, few have made any attempt to analyze the breeding program in the era of the Blunts, choosing to focus instead on the more dramatic stories of the acquisition of the foundation animals, the Partition of the stud in 1906, and the famous lawsuit fought after Lady Anne’s death between her husband and daughter. The present article is an attempt to describe the breeding program of the Blunts and the changes it underwent as time passed and their knowledge of the breed increased. Crabbet under their daughter, Judith Blunt-Lytton (Lady Wentworth), deserves an article unto itself.
The Blunts had travelled in Spain, then in 1873 through Turkey and Algeria. Next, they went in 1875 to Egypt and Damascus. They longed to go further east. In November of 1877 they set out for Syria to travel in the Syrian deserts and Mesopotamia, with one further end in mind. If possible, they wanted to purchase a horse of the same strain as the famous Thoroughbred foundation sire the Darley Arabian. On board a ship bound for Alexandretta, they met a gentleman who recommended they first go to Aleppo to confer with Mr. James Skene, the British Consul. This they did. Snowstorms detained them in Aleppo, but the extended stay with Skene gave birth to another idea. Lady Anne noted in her journal on the 14th of December, 1877 that
“We have made a plan … of importing some of the best Anazeh blood to England and breeding it pure there … it would be an interesting and useful thing to do and I should like much to try it.” 
Mr. Blunt later wrote that they owed the idea to Skene.
When the storms cleared the Blunts set out on the journey recorded in The Bedouin Tribes of the Euphrates. They bought horses themselves, and Skene bought some as well. These first horses they imported to England from 1878-9, and they are listed in Table A.
TABLE A: Desert-bred imports to Crabbet Stud, 1878-9
Those with Al Khamsa descent:
Mu’niqiyah, on both sides of pedigree
QUEEN OF SHEBA
Abayyah, sire a Mu’niqi
Those which did not breed on within Al Khamsa:
same as Darley, above
Some of these first horses were similar to Thoroughbreds in type, and since one of Blunt’s early aims was to reintroduce Arabian blood into the English Thoroughbred, these were a logical selection. One Jockey Club member pronounced the early Crabbet stock “thoroughbreds in miniature,” much to the delight of Mr. Blunt. Skene erroneously informed the Blunts that the Darley Arabian had been a Kuhaylan-Ras-al-Fidawi, so they had imported two animals of this strain. In actuality, he was a Mu’niki.
The Blunts made further travels in Arabia. The next importation consisted of six mares, in 1881 (Table B). In 1884 four new stallions followed, enumerated in Table C. The first three listed of these stallions had been owned in India for racing following their export from Arabia. The animals in Tables A-C constitute the breeding stock of what amounts to the first phase of the Crabbet breeding program, 1879-1884.
This program the Blunts aimed at producing horses that might one day compete with Thoroughbreds on the English turf. As Wilfrid Blunt outlined it,
“the assumption on which the whole experiment has been based has been of course that stock foaled in this country would, by the action of the English climate, combined with good feeding, increase in size, and probably also in speed. …”
To determine if such were the case, Wilfrid Blunt persuaded the Jockey Club to hold an Arab race at Newmarket in 1884. The results were inconclusive, but the Blunts came to abandon the idea of rejuvenating the Thoroughbred. Many years later Blunt summarized his conversion, writing
“I was on wrong lines in breeding Arabs for speed, and not for those more valuable qualities in which their true excellence lies. Had I continued with my original purpose, I should have lost time and money, and probably have also spoiled my breed, producing stock taller perhaps and speedier, but with the same defects found in the English thoroughbred.”
In another place we find,
“The Crabbet Park Stud… is carried on on strict Arabian principles, and as there is no attempt at increasing the height of the stock, the Kehailan type has been well preserved.”
Additional comments of Mr Blunt on the purpose of the Crabbet Stud run,
“It was the conviction that this wonderful breed of horse was threatened with extinction in its native home that led me… to make the attempt you now see carried out at Crabbet of rescuing at least a fraction of the race and preserving it in all its purity in England. This was my first and most important object—not to improve the breed—for it really needs no improvement—but to keep it pure; pure not only in blood, but in type also, to preserve it carefully from deterioration in shape, in temper, in hardihood, and from departure from those special characteristics of beauty which are peculiar to the ancient race.”
It is unfortunate that the two major reference works that the Blunts authored, The Bedouin Tribes of the Euphrates (1879) and A Pilgrimage to Nejd (1881), were written while they themselves had just begun to familiarize themselves with the Arabian horse. While both are valuable books filled with solid material, they could not possibly contain the experience and insights that the Blunts later gained through forty years of breeding and studying the Arabian. Lady Anne did, however, finish an authoritative work on the Arabian horse near the end of her life. This “Book of Fragments,” as she referred to it, she willed to her daughter Judith, who also inherited the barony of Wentworth at her mother’s death. Portions of this “Book of Fragments” supposedly appear in Lady Wentworth’s Authentic Arabian Horse, but it is difficult to distinguish Lady Anne’s voice from her daughter’s.
TABLE B: Desert bred imports to Crabbet Stud, 1881
Those with Al Khamsa descent:
Those which did not breed on within Al Khamsa:
Saqlawiyah; sire a Mu’niqi
TABLE C: Desert bred imports of 1884.
Those with Al Khamsa descent:
HADBAN PROXIMO Hadban Kuhalan, sire a Mu’niqi Those which did not breed on within Al Khamsa: RATAPLAN ABEYAN Dahman Abayyan TABLE D: Last desert bred imports, 1888-91.
Those with Al Khamsa descent:
AZREK FERIDA Saqlawi Mu’niqiyah Those which did not breed on within Al Khamsa: ASHGAR JILFA Saqlawi Jilfah TABLE E: Horses bred in Egypt and imported to Crabbet: 1891 KHATILA MERZUK MESAOUD SAFRA SOBHA 1892 SHAHWAN 1897 BADIA BINT HELWA BINT NURA FULANA JOHARA MAHRUSS 1898 ABU KHASHEB JELLABIEH KASIDA MAKBULA 1904 FEYSUL IBN YASHMAK
The final desert bred horses to join the Crabbet program are listed in Table D. The foal crops of 1880-1891 were produced almost entirely from breeding imported desert bred mares, their daughters, and granddaughters to imported stallions. The only exceptions are about eight foals that the Crabbet bred stallions Roala (Kars/Rodania) and Jeroboam (Pharaoh/Jerboa) sired.
In the first decade of breeding at Crabbet, the Blunts culled many of the original mare lines they had imported. By 1891, no lines remained from Burning Bush, Damask Rose, Purple Stock, Francolin, Tamarisk, Canora, or Zefifia. The Wild Thyme, Dahma, Jedrania, Jilfa and Hagar families left Crabbet soon after. The Blunts tended to think in terms of mare lines, reflected in their system of naming a foal according to the first letter of its dam’s name. This is also a reflection of the Bedouin practice of handing down the strain names from the dam. Certain of the imported mares did not meet the Blunts’ standards. The Blunts were unable to verify the purity of some to their satisfaction, so these were sold along with any progeny. Other mares were barren. Others did not produce the quality that the Blunts desired. In 1904 Wilfrid Blunt stated,
“the produce of certain imported mares, however good individually these were, will become eliminated from the stud and it will be idle out of sentiment to retain them. It is better such strains should be lost when after three generations they have failed to produce a sire of the first class.”
In this way the Sherifa line eventually died out as well. Nineteen years after her importation, her descent had still “not yet produced a first class colt.” Similarly, the 1917 Crabbet catalogue records that the Meshura family had dwindled to one mare. The Blunts never used a stallion of the Meshura family. Although the Ferida family was well represented numerically in the 1917 catalog, it too gave no sires to the stud in the time of the Blunts. The desert mares still represented at Crabbet at the end of Lady Anne’s life were Basilisk, Jerboa, Dajania, Queen of Sheba, Meshura, Rodania, and Ferida. However, the Jerboa line had died out in tail-female.
The Blunts also eliminated many of the original stallion lines. Although Darley, Abeyan, Rataplan, and Ashgar all sired foals at Crabbet, their lines did not breed into the 20th century at that stud. Neither did Proximo’s, apparently. Kars, Pharaoh, Hadban, and Azrek were still represented at the end of the Blunt period of breeding.
1891 was the last year in which the Blunts’ foals were exclusively descended from their own desert imports. The year 1892 marked a transition. his foal crop included the last foals that Azrek (the last desert bred stallion used at Crabbet) sired for them, and the first foals from stallions and mares they had brought from Ali Pasha Sherif in Egypt.
The Ali Pasha horses had certain intangible qualities that led to another reorganization of the breeding program at Crabbet. “I don’t know what it is, or rather I don’t know how to put into words that indescribable air of distinction which marks the horses and mares of Ali Pasha Sherif’s…” Lady Anne commented. Table E summarizes the Ali Pasha horses imported to Crabbet from Egypt.
Merzuk and Mesaoud had shared the 1892 foal crop with Azrek, but 1893 to 1901 saw the imported Ali Pasha horses dominate the breeding program. The only stallion used in this period not bred by Ali Pasha was Ahmar (Azrek/Queen of Sheba), who got roughly 19 foals. This is in sharp contrast with the total sired by the Ali Pasha stallions Mesaoud, Shahwan, and Mahruss in those years, which was something in excess of 90.
This Ali Pasha blood quickly permeated the Crabbet stock. The 1901 Crabbet Stud catalogue lists 81 horses. The average level of Ali Pasha blood in the herd at that time was 53%, indicating that in just ten years the Blunts had placed the Ali Pasha horses on an equal footing with their own desert imports.
In 1897 the Blunts decided they would add no further new blood to Crabbet. This decision manifested itself in their bringing two Mesaoud sons into the stallion battery in 1901, Seyal and Rejeb. In over 20 years of breeding at Crabbet, only three home bred stallions had preceded them. The foal crop of 1902, therefore, marks the beginning of the final phase of the Blunt breeding program at Crabbet.
In the 1902 foal crop, Mesaoud presented his usual high quality foals, but the Blunts exported Rejeb to Japan in 1901, before any of his foals were on the ground. Seyal remained at Crabbet for several more years. Lady Anne seems to have preferred him to Rejeb; she wrote of Seyal “we could not do better except for colour and must risk some greys I suppose.”
Seyal was the last grey stallion the Blunts used at Crabbet to any extent. The only others had been Azrek and Shahwan (the imported grey colt Faris, out of Francolin, was also used sparingly). Of Shahwan Lady Anne wrote, “we can’t get his like again and would not part at all with him were he not grey.”
This aspect may have also been a factor in the sale of Azrek to South Africa. Wilfrid Blunt considered Azrek the best imported sire up to that time, and only Mesaoud later surpassed him. Lady Anne deeply regretted the sale of Azrek, but the ownership of his get consoled her to an extent. The difficulty with greys was that they did not sell as easily as bays and chestnuts. The Blunts constantly guarded against becoming overstocked, relying heavily on the export market as well as sales in England.
Seyal had just four seasons at Crabbet, during which the Blunts bred him, with one exception, only to grey mares. He got around 17 foals. In 1903 one of these grey mares, Bukra, produced a bay Seyal colt. This was Berk, whom Lady Anne ecstatically described as a yearling: “the sight of all was Berk lunged, as his action is magnificent—he was a perfect picture in motion…” With a bay son to replace him, the Blunts sold Seyal that same year to India.
The stallions the Blunts used in their final phase (foal crops of 1902-20) were again imported horses of Ali Pasha stock, and home bred horses combining their own desert breeding with that of Ali Pasha. The one exception was Nejran (Azrek/Nefisa). The Blunts had sold Nejran as a two-year-old in 1893, repurchasing him in 1901. He stood for three seasons, getting about twelve foals before his sale to Australia in 1904. Nejran was the last stallion used at Crabbet who traced exclusively to their own desert stock, following the export of Ahmar to Java in 1901.
The choice of stallions of the lines listed above raised the level of Ali Pasha blood in the herd. The 1917 Crabbet catalogue lists 81 horses. At this point the average level of Ali Pasha blood was 57%. The increase over the 1901 percentage is not as much as one might expect, yet the figure demonstrates that the Ali Pasha blood did come to edge out the “Blunt” blood slightly. However, one must guard against taking the extreme view that the Blunts no longer valued their own desert selections. The level of representation of this blood was still 43%.
Of the Ali Pasha mares, the 1917 catalog details that no descendants remained from the families of Khatila, Badia, Safra, Fulana, Johara, or Jellabieh. However, the blood of the families of Sobha, Bint Helwa, Bint Nura, Makbula and her daughter Kasida, ran strong in the herd, with all but the latter having provided sires to the stud.
Of the imported Ali Pasha stallions, all but Abu Khasheb had progeny in the 1917 catalogue. Shahwan’s line, however, descended only through his grandson Ibn Yashmak, a son of his Egyptian born daughter Yashmak. His English born daughters Shohba (/Shelfa) and Reshmeh (/Rose of Sharon) were in the Crabbet broodmare band for a time, but the lines did not continue.
The imported stallions the Blunts used from 1901 to 1919, their final breeding years, were Mesaoud, Feysul, and Ibn Yashmak, getting between them in this period roughly 54 foals. The Crabbet bred stallions were first Rejeb, Seyal, and Nejran, as described above, then:
Mesaoud/Queen of Sheba
Mahruss/ Rose of Sharon
Astraled/Rose of Hind
Following Lady Anne’s death at the end of 1917, Blunt bred a few foals from two additional stallions, and Lady Wentworth, who had repurchased Nadir (Mesaoud/Nefisa) from George Ruxton, bred him to a couple of the mares she had at Crabbet.
These Nadir foals were born in 1920, the year that the courts settled the lawsuit in Lady Wentworth’s favor. Wilfrid retained a few geldings as well as his favorite stallion Rustem and his 21-year-old riding mare Abla (Mesaoud/Asfura).
Lady Wentworth took charge of the rest of the stud. By the end of the year the stock had altered considerably since her mother’s death. Debts had forced Wilfrid to sell a large number of animals, and Lady Wentworth sold another large draft to the Royal Agricultural Society in Egypt, which included the stallions Razaz and Sotamm, as well as Ibn Yashmak. Of the stallions in the above table, the only one still at Crabbet at the end of 1920 was Nasik.
One odd aspect of the management at Crabbet was that the Blunts sold many of their best foundation stallions just as they were making important contributions to the herd. They regretted the sales of Azrek, Pharaoh, Hadban, Merzuk, and Mahruss at the time of sale and especially later, as their stock matured.
The influence of the Crabbet horses on current Al Khamsa stock is significant. Twenty-three Crabbet horses imported to America have bred on in Al Khamsa lines. An additional six are represented through animals imported from Egypt, a result of Lady Wentworth’s sale in 1920.
Al Khamsa bloodlines also contain descent from another desert bred stallion that Lady Anne owned. He was not, however, a part of the Crabbet breeding program. This was Saadun, a horse she brought from Arabia to her stud in Egypt in 1911. This breeding concern, the Sheykh Obeyd Stud, was located on the property of the same name outside of Cairo in Egypt. The Blunts had bought this land in 1882, later adding to the original 50 acre holding through the purchase of adjoining tracts. Some years later it became their annual winter home, following numerous improvements. The number of Arabians they kept here never approached that at Crabbet, and it served as temporary stabling for a few desert horses and all of their purcheses in Egypt awaiting shipment to England.
However, a number of horses never went to England, remaining as foundation stock for the Sheykh Obeyd Stud. There are grounds to support the argument that Sheykh Obeyd was a Stud in its own right, sharing some bloodlines with Crabbet, but a separate entity. The foundation stock descended mainly rom Ali Pasha Sherif and Abbas Pasha bloodlines, but also included a Bahraini mare that had been a gift to the Khedive of Egypt, from whom Lady Anne had purchased her, and several animals she had imported herself directly from Arabia in 1911 and 1913.
After Lady Anne died, Blunt gave the Public Trustee permission to sell the Sheykh Obeyd horses. Lady Wentworth records that most of them went to Captain Trouncer, acting on behalf of the Egyptian Horsebreeding Commisssion, while the rest went to a Greek by the name of Casdugli. A number of Sheykh Obeyd horses found their way into pedigrees influencing current Al Khamsa stock.
The horses of the Blunts at Crabbet and Sheykh Obeyd, through importation directly to America from England or through Egypt, provided an important “building block” for Al Khamsa.
Lady Anne Blunt, quoted in Archer, Pearson, Covey, The Crabbet Arabian Stud, Its History and Influence, (Gloucestershire: Heriot, 1978), pps. 32-33.↩
Also consulted: Weatherby’s General Stud Book.↩
Wilfrid S. Blunt, “The Forthcoming Arab Race at Newmarket,” in the Nineteenth Century, 1884. Reprinted in George H. Conn, The Arabian Horse in Fact, Fantasy, and Fiction, 4th ed. (New York: Arco, 1973), p. 371.↩
Revised January 1998
Copyright by R.J.Cadranell
Used by permission of RJ Cadranell
Digging For Gold In The Raswan Index
Most Arabian horses descend to greater or lesser extent from the Arabian horse collection of Ali Pasha Sherif (d. 1897) of Egypt. Writers treat this collection of horses with awe and respect. The best of the horses still stand as examples of classic Arabians.
Crabbet Stud co-founder Lady Anne Blunt (1837-1917) seems to have made the greatest effort to acquire representatives of Ali Pasha breeding as his collection began to disperse in the last decade of the nineteenth century. On March 26, 1897 she and her 24 year old daughter Judith (later Lady Wentworth) attended the collection’s second and final auction sale. Also with Lady Anne was her sais, Mutlak, a former employee of Ali Pasha’s. Her published Journals describe the event:
“With Judith 7. 50 train, and Mutlak to sale of remnant of A.P.S. stud at the Serai. Did not begin till long after 9, the hour on bills, Aziz brought out first only Lb bid taken back. Then 2 year filly B.B. Azz grey fetched LBE 29. Ibn Johara 32, Ibn Zarifa Saghir 27, do Kebir 26, Ibn Bint Nura Saghir 56, do Kebir 43, Ibn B. Jellabieh Feysul 55, Ibn Bint Nura es Shakra 44, Ibn Makbula 63, Ibn Aziz Saghir 60). Johara B. Helwa (Seglawieh) 80, B. Horra and foal 125, B. Nura es Shakra 106. B. Makbula 255. Of these I bid for the grey 3 yr. Ibn Johara 31 – splendid colt but has been ill, severe cold (regret I did not go to 35). I bought B. Horra and foal and B. Nura es Shakra (regret I did not buy for 55 the ch. Ibn B. Jell. Feysul 4 years very beautiful—feared to add to number of stallions as we have enough). Sent Mutlak home with the 2 mares and foal, am delighted with them…”
Many of these horses were lost to Arabian horse breeding. Egypt’s first published stud book did not appear for more than fifty years after this sale, so details of these lost horses are available to us through scattered notes in Lady Anne Blunt’s Journals and stud books and also The Raswan Index. While the Index material on the Ali Pasha pedigrees is often difficult to follow and seems to come from secondary and tertiary sources, the Index is in general surprisingly clear about the horses going through this sale. Raswan’s information includes colors, foaling dates, and parents of the sale horses.
Internal evidence suggests that Raswan saw one of the bills which Lady Anne Blunt mentions as having been issued prior to the sale. He might have seen one during the time he spent with Lady Wentworth in 1926. He might have found one in Egypt, perhaps as part of the library of Prince Mohammed Ali to which Raswan also had access. The Index contains a number of alternative spellings of the names of the horses going through the sale. These transliterations use a system entirely different from those Raswan and Lady Anne Blunt used. They are consistent with themselves, suggesting that Raswan drew them from a single source. Certain spellings suggest that the original writer spoke French. For example, the name “Helwa” (“sweet” in Arabic) is rendered “Heloua,” the use of “oua” for “w” being typically French. “Shakra” (Arabic for “chestnut”) appears as “Chakra,” also a French spelling.
Raswan’s information about the horses going through the sale is in general agreement with Lady Anne Blunt’s. Using the two sources, it is possible to reconstruct a sale catalog:
1. Aziz was a chestnut Dahman Shahwan stallion Lady Anne Blunt first saw as a four-year-old in November of 1880, making Aziz about 21 at the time of the sale. He was a principal sire for Ali Pasha, and Lady Anne Blunt came to own many of his get: Mesaoud GSB, Antar, Jamil, Johara GSB, Bint Helwa GSB, Bint Nura GSB, Bint Bint Jamila el Kebira, Bint Fereya, Badia GSB, Bint Horra, Kerima, Aziza (1900), and Khatila GSB. (1) Aziz died in 1889. (Blunt quoted in Pearson/Mol p. 137).
2. Bint Bint Azz eventually found her way to Lady Anne Blunt’s stables at Sheykh Obeyd Garden near Cairo. She was entered as No. 23 in the Sheykh Obeyd Stud Book, renamed “Azz,” and described there as a white Dahmah Shahwaniyah mare foaled in 1895 or 96, by Ibn Nura and out of Bint Azz. Index entries 1415 and 1067 give variant spelling of her name “Bent Bent Ezz.” Entered in GSB as “Azz.”
3. Ibn Johara is described in Index entry 3998 as an 1894 grey stallion out of Johara (q.v.) and by “Ibn Mahroussa I.” Entry 4005 explains that “Ibn Mahroussa I” is the grey stallion more often known as Mahruss. The variant name and numerical designation appear to be Raswan’s own. Lady Anne’s Journal entry for January 22, 1902 mentions “the grey horse (now 7 years old) by Mahruss out of Johara” then owned by Ahmed Fathi and his son Mohammed Fathi. This is apparently Ibn Johara.
4. and 5. Ibn Zarifa Saghir and Ibn Zarifa Kebir appear to be the sons of a mare named Zarifa (“the graceful”), as their names imply (“the younger son of the graceful mare” and “the elder son of the graceful mare” respectively). Index entries 4040 and 4041, as well as 11242 and 11243, interpret the names to mean “the son of the younger Zarifa” and “the son of the elder Zarifa,” which is an unlikely interpretation since the words kebir and saghir take the masculine form and therefore seem to apply to the sons. Raswan says the sons were foaled in 1887 and 1888, were both grey, and both by Aziz.
6. and 7. Ibn Bint Nura Saghir and Ibn Bint Nura Kebir Raswan describes as chestnut stallions foaled 1892 and 1889, by Aziz and out of Bint Nura (index 3964, 3962). Entry 3964 gives variant spelling “Ebn Bent Noura El-Saghir.” Raswan’s attempt to determine which Bint Nura produced these stallions is similar to his treatment of the two Zarifa sons. These two sons of “Bint Nura” were probably out of the same mare. Ali Pasha owned numerous mares known as “Bint Nura” (see below for another). These two easily could have been full brothers to Bint Nura GSB.
8. Ibn Bint Jellabieh Feysul is in the Index ( 3957) as an 1893 chestnut son of Ibn Nura out of Bint Jellabieh Feysul. Date, name, and color agree with the Journal entry describing the auction. Raswan seems to have been unaware that this horse was Feysul GSB. Lady Anne Blunt acquired him “from Seyyid Mohammed Fathi December 7 1898. Mohammed Fathi had bought him from Saleh Bey Sherif, his purchaser at the 2nd Auction held in March 1897 (Lady Anne Blunt quoted in A,P & C, p. 97). The facsimile page of the Sheykh Obeyd stud book reproduced in Upton shows that Lady Anne Blunt originally entered Feysul as the son of “Bint Jellabiet Feysul,” noting that Feysul’s dam was also known as “the lame” (El Argaa) from having broken a front leg. She later changed El Argaa’s other name to read “Bint Bint Jellabiet Feysul,” implying that one of the “Bints” had been left out originally.
9. Ibn Nura es Shakra is in the Index ( 3963) as an 1890 grey stallion by Ibn Sherara (also spelled “Charara”) and out of Bint Nura es Shakra (Bint Nura GSB; see below). Sheykh Obeyd records state that Ibn Bint Nura es Shakra was bred to Johara in 1897. At that time Lady Anne Blunt described him as “Ibn Bint Nura es Shakra (white about 7 years) by Ibn Sherara…” (Pearson/Mol p. 139). In later years a grey stallion named Kaukab from the Ali Pasha collection was active in Egypt. He was the sire of Sahab, the grandsire of the Babson import *Bint Serra. *Bint Serra’s original pedigree, issued in Egypt, describes “Kawkab” as a white son of Ibn Sherara and “Bint Nura.” Lady Anne Blunt owned Sahab and knew his sire. In December of 1907 she referred to Kaukab as “a beautiful white horse about 15 years old” belonging to Ali Pasha’s son Yusef Bey (J&C p. 325). On February 19, 1914 she had a visit from Ibrahim Bey Sherif, another of Ali Pasha’s sons: “he says he has ‘taken’ Kaukab (sire of Sahab) from his brother (Yusef) and will bring that beautiful old horse to show me tomorrow.” The next day “Ibrahim Bey Sherif conducted by Ali the syce appeared on Kaukab, true to promise. That horse is indeed beautiful, light of bone as they say and pasterns rather too long, but what style, the quarter splendid (I wish Sahab had inherited that)…” Kaukab was apparently out of Lady Anne’s own Bint Nura GSB (shot in 1912). One might suspect that Kaukab and Ibn Bint Nura es Shakra were the same horse. However, notes of Lady Anne’s quoted in A, P&C ( p. 113) in connection with Sahab state that Yusef Bey Sherif had Kaukab “given to him by his father before the ‘interdict.’ ” This makes it unlikely Kaukab would have been one of the horses in the auction. If Ibn Bint Nura es Shakra and Kaukab are not the same horse, then it seems they were full brothers of roughly the same age.
10. Ibn Makbula is in the Index (4009) as an 1892 grey stallion. Variant spelling “Ebn Makboula.” Beyond this, his Index entry is particularly garbled. He is listed as being by a sire also named “Ibn Makbula” and out of a mare named “Nasrat.” There is no other “Ibn Makbula” in the Index, and the only “Nasrat” in the Index was a bay Ali Pasha stallion by Aziz and out of Bint Azz. Ali Pasha Sherif owned at least two mares named Makbula, and Ibn Makbula’s name implies he was the son of one of them. Index correction 888 changes the sire to Nasrat and the dam to Makbula. Like Raswan, Lady Anne Blunt says that Ali Pasha Sherif bred a bay stallion named Nasr or Nasrat, by Aziz and out of Bint Azz. She further records that “Nasr died of ‘the eye’ i.e. fell dead one day when being ridden out – this happened on a bridge. His only descendants were Kasida, Manokta and a colt ex Mukbula” ( quoted in Upton, p. 116)
Kasida ( 1891) and Manokta ( 1894) were foundation mares for Lady Anne Blunt, full sisters by Nasr and out of Makbula GSB. It seems that Ibn Makbula was their brother and the third Nasr foal.
Ibn Makbula appears in the Journals again, entry of November 20, 1909: “To the house of Mahmud Moharrem Rustem purchaser of … the colt by Nasrat out of Makbula … a handsome wreck, eyes sunk in and looks older than his age (16 to 17 years), is very like Kasida is grey, great bone, strange to say not yet white at that age.”
11. Ibn Azz Saghir is not in the Index, but there is an entry for Ibn Bint Azz As-Saghir ( 3954), with the telltale variant spelling “Ebn Bent Ezz El-Saghir.” The Index lists him as an 1893 grey stallion by Ibn Helwa (or “Ebn Heloua”) out of Bint Azz (“Bent Ezz”). It seems unlikely that Azz herself was producing as late as the 1890’s, but a Bint Azz daughter also went through the sale, so this might be another case of a dropped “Bint.” Index entry 3992 implies that Ibn Helwa was full brother to Bint Helwa GSB and Johara GSB.
12. Johara Bint Helwa has variant spelling “Goharra Bent Heloua” in Index entries 3081 and 4550. She is in GSB as Johara, and Crabbet records state she was also known as “Bint Helwa es Shakra” (the chestnut daughter of the sweet mare). Crabbet records further state that Lady Anne Blunt “[p]urchased [her] from Ibrahim Bey Sherif on April 19, 1897 for Lb 120. Ibrahim Bey had bought her at the Auction on March 26, for LbE 80 (quoted in Upton, p. 100). Johara was the daughter of Aziz and Helwa, and was foaled about 1880, making her one of the first Aziz foals.
13. Bint Horra also has a variant spelling in the Index ( 1456): “Bent Horra.” She was one of the three horses Lady Anne bought at the auction. Bint Horra is No. 9 in the Sheykh Obeyd herd book, and is described there as an 1889 grey mare bred by Ali Pasha, got by Aziz, her dam Horra. Bint Horra died at Sheykh Obeyd in September, 1897.
14. Fortunately, Lady Anne had also bought Bint Horra’s foal, a bay filly by Ibn Nura just 22 days old at the time of the auction. She was known as Bint Bint Horra, and Lady Anne Blunt named her Ghazieh. She is No. 15 in the Sheykh Obeyd herd book, and was the dam of ten foals for Lady Anne.
15. Bint Nura es Shakra was the third horse Lady Anne bought at the auction. She is in GSB as Bint Nura. Index entry 1477 has the somewhat predictable variant spelling “Bent Nour [sic] El Chakra.” She was a chestnut mare foaled in 1885, by Aziz, her dam Bint Nura. Lady Anne, with typical fastidiousness, notes that Bint Nura GSB’s name “should be Bint Bint Nura” ( see Upton, p. 108).
16. Bint Makbula brought the most money of any horse in the sale. She is better known as Kasida GSB. A Frenchman bought her at the auction and imported her to France in April, 1897. He brought her back to Egypt that winter, and Lady Anne Blunt was able to buy her from him in March of 1898 (Upton, p. 116). Kasida was originally named Bint Makbula el Shakra. She was an 1891 chestnut full sister to the grey Manokta (Bint Makbula el Saghira), by Nasr and out of Makbula GSB. Index entry 1467 for “Bint Makbula,” an 1891 chestnut Jallabiyah by Nasrat, appears to refer to Kasida GSB.
Lady Anne Blunt eventually owned seven of the horses sold through this auction. They and her other Ali Pasha horses were combined with bloodlines she and her husband Mr. Wilfrid Blunt had selected in Syria, India, and Arabia. This blending produced the famous Crabbet and Sheykh Obeyd Arabians of the Blunts.
Lady Anne Blunt: Preservation Breeder
Among the traditional questions Arabian horse writers debate is, To what extent did the best qualities of the horses the Blunts bred in later years stem from the Ali Pasha collection as opposed to the original “Blunt” desert stock with which Crabbet started?
Lady Anne Blunt herself repeatedly attributed an “indescribable air of distinction” and “style” ( J&C p. 214) to the “unmistakable Ali Pasha Sherif stamp of horse” ( J&C p. 236). Yet the Blunts did not discard the original Crabbet lines and breed only from Ali Pasha blood. Following the importation of Mesaoud, Merzuk, Khatila, Sobha, and Safra to Crabbet in 1891, most foals represented a combination of Blunt desert lines with Ali Pasha blood. Nejran (Azrek x Nefisa), sold to Australia in 1904, was the last “straight Blunt” (meaning, in this article, a horse tracing only to the Blunt acquisitions bred in the desert) stallion to stand at Crabbet, but the GSB does not record that he covered any straight Blunt mares. Crabbet’s last straight Blunt foal listed in GSB was Bozra’s 1901 effort by Ahmar. This foal died young.
Although Crabbet ceased to produce straight Blunt horses, it did maintain a small pool of unmixed Ali Pasha stock. The 1917 Crabbet catalog (prepared about a year before Lady Anne Blunt’s death) lists three remaining mares (Kantara, *Kerbela, and Hamasa) and three stallions (Feysul, Ibn Yashmak, and Zeydan). In 1916 *Kerbela was bred to Zeydan, Hamasa to Feysul, and Kantara to Ibn Yashmak. The latter was the only productive mating, responsible for the 1917 filly Kesratain. She was Crabbet’s last foal of unmixed Ali Pasha blood and the first since her full sister *Kerbela in 1911. Feysul was destroyed in 1917 and Hamasa (Mesaoud x Bint Helwa) was sold at about the same time. Clearly the production of straight Ali Pasha horses was neither a primary project at Crabbet nor one with the prospect of continuing much longer. Wilfrid Blunt sold *Kerbela to America in 1918, but Lady Wentworth was able to repurchase Kibla (Mesaoud x Makbula GSB). Though scarcely a saint, Lady Wentworth does not deserve the chiding she has received for Crabbet’s not preserving the Ali Pasha Sherif bloodlines in any straight form. ( 2)
At the time the 1916 Crabbet catalog was prepared the situation of the Ali Pasha stock at Sheykh Obeyd was not much better. There, Lady Anne Blunt had two pure Ali Pasha stallions, five broodmares, and three fillies. They are listed in the accompanying box. Journal entry for July 12th, 1916:
Stud notice. Jemla to Sahab. Zarifa to Jamil. N.B. If this fails it will be best to take Saadun for both of them. I try with Sahab & Jamil because the authorities here are so very keen about unmixed Abbas Pasha descent, as to which I know from experience that results are uneven. (J&C p. 377)
The sudden outbreak of straight Ali Pasha breedings in England during the 1916 season is likely not coincidental. The last phrase of the entry is perhaps the best indication of why Lady Anne Blunt did not pursue straight Ali Pasha breeding more vigorously. Despite the qualities which the best of the Ali Pasha horses exhibited, Lady Anne Blunt found the bloodline easier to manage as a breeding influence when outcrossed. In this way the Ali Pasha horses and the Blunt desert lines were able to improve one another.
UNMIXED ALI PASHA HORSES AT SHEYKH OBEYD, END OF 1916
All of these horses were bred at Sheykh Obeyd with the exception of the three oldest. Jamil was bred by Ali Pasha Sherif. Sahab was bred by a son of Ali Pasha’s. Kerima was bred by Ali Pasha and purchased in-utero by Lady Anne Blunt. Of the above mares, Kerima had been barren for the past eight years and Lady Anne Blunt sold her in 1917. She also sold Faiza in 1917. Lady Anne presented Ghadia, Jamil, and Jemla to the RAS in 1917. Ghadia had been barren for five years, although Lady Anne believed her to be in foal to Jamil at the time she left Sheykh Obeyd (J&C p. 382). The other five were still at Sheykh Obeyd when Lady Anne died at the end of 1917. Feyda produced in 1917 a filly (dead) by Sahab, and Zarifa produced a 1917 colt by Jamil. Zarifa was rebred to Jamil, though Feyda went to Lady Anne’s desert bred stallion Krush.
Jamil Ch 20 Aziz x Bint Jamila
Sahab gr 13 Kaukab x Azz GSB Mares:
Kerima ch 19 Aziz x Makbula GSB
Ghadia gr 12 Feysul GSB x*Ghazala
Jemla gr 10 Jamil x *Ghazala
Feyda bay 6 Jamil x Ghazieh
Zarifa gr 5 Sahab x Ghadia Fillies:
Serra gr yearling Sahab x Jemla
Faiza bay yearling Sahab x Feyda
Falha gr 1916 foal Sahab x Feyda
(1) The abbreviation “GSB” stands for the General Stud Book, in which the Blunt horses imported to or bred in England were registered. When it follows the name of a horse, it indicates the animal was registered in the GSB under that name. This I have tried to do in places where it might be necessary to distinguish it from horses having the same or similar name but not registered in GSB.
(2) Zeydan (Mesaoud x Kasida) was full brother to Kantara. His photo does not indicate he was one of Crabbet’s better efforts, and the “preservation” breeding to *Kerbela is the only record in GSB of his use at stud. Lady Wentworth sold Zeydan to the Egyptian government in 1920.
A,P&C is Archer, Pearson, and Covey’s The Crabbet Arabian Stud, Its History and Influence, Heriot, Cheltenham, 1978.
J&C is Lady Anne Blunt, Journals and Correspondence 1878-1917, ed. Archer & Fleming, Heriot, Cheltenham, 1986.
Pearson/Mol is notes of Lady Anne Blunt’s published in Pearson and Mol’s The Arabian Horse Families of Egypt, Heriot, Cheltenham, 1988.
Upton is notes of Lady Anne Blunt’s published in Peter Upton’s Desert Heritage, Skilton & Shaw, London, 1980.
Photos originally from the Newbuildings Collection of the late Lady Anne Lytton, provided by Michael Bowling.
Copyright 1993 by R.J.CADRANELLfrom Arabian Visions Sept/Oct
1993Used by permission of RJCadranell
Schumann cannot imagine a circus without four essentials: clowns,
acrobats, elephants, and horses.
do anything you can ask them. They are like an empty canvas.
Each has its own talents to develop to the fullest. Some will
be great, others good.”
Katja Schumann, a fifth generation circus
equestrienne, came to America from Europe more than ten years ago.
She performs with the Big Apple Circus. Because of transportation,
insurance, and labor costs, permanent circuses do not keep many
horses. Katja has 12, including Saddlebreds, Arabians, a Palomino,
and a Shetland pony. She says her horses need to be versatile and
Big Apple Circus performs in the northeastern corner of the United
States: shows take place in New England, New York, Ohio, and Washington
D.C. [and Chicago Ill. in 1997 and ’98]. The circus performs in
one ring under one tent, accommodating an audience of 2,000 in
summer and 1,500 in winter. It takes four to five hours to raise
the tent, four hours to create the footing in the ring, a day and
a half to prepare for a show, and eight hours to take everything
down. There are horses and elephants, aerialists, clowns, jugglers,
and acrobats. The program changes every year, and there are two
shows a day. The
basic training of the horses Katja does on an individual basis. Each
horse has a name and must respond to it. She uses the horse’s name
to ask it to come to her, or to get its attention.
if they know their names, later you can get an individual’s
attention when they are in a group,” Katja explains. “They
must come when called, and respond to the long whip, which
is an extension of your hand and arm.”
horses performing at liberty, however, do not rely on voice commands.
music is so loud the horses must respond to whip and body movements,” Katja
says. “When the whip is behind, it
means go forward. When in front, it means stop. But cues must
be applied differently because all horses are individuals,
and when communicating with one you cannot disturb the others.
If I show the inside of my wrist one horse knows to speed up.
There are other commands for a turn in place or a change of
direction. To turn five to eight horses at once, they must
all be on track. Later they learn to rear. That’s the basics.”
is done with a longe line and halter,
“not jerking on the mouth,” Katja says. “Sometimes
the horses are ridden after they learn the basics, and sometimes
has a few geldings, but she prefers stallions for circus work because
they show themselves better. She comments,
inexperienced grooms and people who don’t know what they’re
doing get along better with geldings. The horses live outside
my window so I can watch. The inexperienced grooms want to
learn, but they make mistakes.”
prefers Arabians for circus performance, explaining that circuses
have used Arabian and part-Arabian horses for centuries because
of their looks, durability, and trainability.
will do anything as long as they understand what you are asking,” Katja
says. “That sounds simple,
but from one day to the next the same aids may not work. Sometimes
you need to ask one way, sometimes another. The Arab will respond
to what he thinks you’re asking. Understand that principle.
If you get on someone else’s horse, the key might be to raise
your hands a little. Books don’t tell you that, but the horse
finds her horses though the grapevine, following hunches, and reading
magazines. Her needs are specific as to color and age. Currently
she is assembling a liberty act of eight grey stallions.
Katja came to America she had to leave her horses in Europe. She
knew she wanted Arabians, but the prices in America were prohibitive
in the early 80s.
of those high-priced horses should have been donated to circuses.” Katja
comments. “They were just not as
good as the price might make you think.”
A friend suggested she consider Saddlebreds,
but Katja had never seen any. She went to Kentucky and then bought
some. She now has three Saddlebreds and likes them.
have been bred as show horses, and the slightest noise makes
them jump. But you can use that to your advantage.”
horses cannot be younger than age three. For her team of eight,
Katja needed white Arabian stallions with minimal handling:
way I can be sure no one has messed them up.”
The horses also had to be accustomed to living with other stallions.
She found a source of such stallions at Craver Farms in Hillview,
Illinois. The young Davenport stallions Angevin CF, Thespian CF,
and Bohemian CF have all joined the circus, where they are known
by their stage names Abiyad, Yussef, and Pasha. Two more Davenport
stallions may follow shortly.
horses go back in all lines to the 1906 Davenport importation of
Arabian horses from the Anazeh and Shammar tribes. Davenport blood
is present in an estimated 90% of American Arabians. The Davenport
horses have also been bred as a closed herd since 1906.
used to be a primary source of large groups of horses for the circuses
of Europe. Purebred Arabians were available and also horses “of
Arabian breed,” meaning Shagyas and warmbloods. The Bertram Mills
circus in England used horses with Crabbet lines, known in the
circus trade as “English Arabs.” They were known for being bigger,
often more beautiful, and more pampered. Polish Arabians are popular
today in European circuses because they are plentiful and tough.
of the Polish Arabians performing in circuses wouldn’t make
show horses, but they are very good circus horses”
Katja says of them. Katja
sees herself carrying on her family tradition and trying to keep
alive her inheritance. Her ancestors were circus proprietors who
rode and trained and put together shows.
day the circus might be looked on like the Spanish Riding School
or the American Ballet Theater. It’s something people need:
to sit two feet from circus horses roaring past.”
on the durability of the Arabian horse Katja says.
you spend five to ten years training a horse, you want to keep
him around. A circus horse is not a product for resale.”
Her horses are in many ways like the members
of a dance troupe.
are our colleagues, not our pets. We and the horses depend
on one another. I think the bedouins and cowboys did the same.”
The Big Apple Circus is a nonprofit performing arts organization.
Copyright 1990 by Michael Bowling, used by permission
Originally published in Arabian Visions March/April 1990
Full Steam Ahead: 1899-1906
The 1898 Crabbet foal crop, which had jumped by 10 over that of 1897, marked a new peak in numbers and initiated an era of sustained production. The smallest foal crops at Crabbet would now hover around the pre-1898 record high of 14. In this period the new Ali Pasha Sherif mares were active, and the Mesaoud fillies came into serious production. The Rodania family was clearly established as the most numerous at Crabbet, achieving distinction in the 1906 season as the first to be represented by five breeding mares, even though Rose of Jericho, *Rose of Sharon and Rose Diamond had been sold; Dajania, Basilisk and Meshura were roughly tied for second. On the sire side activity was dominated almost entirely by Mesaoud and his sons although Ahmar and Nejran closed out the Azrek era, Mahruss GSB got one very significant foal and the newly-arrived Feysul sired his most important offspring in his first Crabbet crop. No one sire dominated the stallion battery in any year and the average foals per sire fell slightly to 11.5. The shape Crabbet breeding would take in the future was largely defined in this period, when Daoud, Rabla, *Astraled, Risala, Ajramieh, Rijm, *Berk, Riada, Riyala and Rasim were foaled. The number of Crabbet foals which would influence future breeding rose sharply, perhaps largely because stronger international demand was developing for stock to found stable new programs. The Crabbet foals reported dead in GSB fell to 10% of this era’s 149, and 33 made it into modern pedigrees.
The Blunts worked at maintaining tail-male descent from Azrek; when Ahmar was exported to Java they bought back Nefisa’s Azrek son Nejran and used him for three seasons, but he was to breed on through just one daughter. *Rose of Sharon had also produced a top-class Azrek colt in 1890; this was Rafyk, the foundation sire of Australian Arabian breeding and whose name is extensively repeated at the back of most traditional Australian mare lines. According to the 1924 Crabbet Stud Catalogue Lady Wentworth in her turn meant to reintroduce the Azrek sire line through the double Rafyk grandson Minaret, but if that horse actually reached England nothing came of the venture.
The remaining Ali Pasha Sherif mares proved uncertain producers at Crabbet; in no more than three seasons did as many as five or six of the 10 produce, although a few straggled out to 1910. Astonishingly, the crippled Bint Helwa overcame her broken leg to be the most reliable broodmare of the lot; she shares honors with Rodania as the only Blunt imported mare to leave family branches through three different daughters–hers Hilmyeh, Hamasa and *Ghazala, with the last-named bred by Ali Pasha Sherif but used at Sheykh Obeyd. Ironically this family did not persist at Crabbet though the Sheykh Obeyd and American daughters of *Ghazala, plus *Hazna, *Hamida and *Hilwe, all founded highly influential lines. When *Rose of Sharon went to Spencer Borden in 1905 she was in foal to Bint Helwa’s son Harb and produced *Rodan. That horse was to be the only link to Harb in modern pedigrees but he proved a strong one, siring such mares as Gulnare, Bazrah, Niht, Fath and Fenzileh and leaving a male line through Ghazi.
Makbula GSB left a branch through her daughter Kibla; this became an essentially American family when Kibla’s granddaughter *Namilla and great granddaughters *Kiyama and *Kareyma transplanted the line wholesale to the Selby Stud. Bint Helwa’s elder sister Johara left a small international family. Indirect lines breed on from Makbula’s imported daughter Kasida, Lady Anne Blunt’s favorite riding mare, in the important Egyptian mare sire Kasmeyn; from Fulana in her very handsome son Faraoun, another far back in Austalian mare lines; and from the magnificent Bint Nura GSB who had no fillies to live but produced the imported stallions Abu Khasheb and Mahruss GSB and the Crabbet colt Daoud. Daoud gave his dam indirect mare lines in spades; one Daoud son, Redif, survives in pedigrees through his own influential daughter Bint Ranya.
Mesaoud established his male line more firmly before his 1903 sale to Russian Poland, though not via Daoud; *Astraled, Nejef, Harb and Nadir joined Seyal among the future sire branch founders. *Astraled, half-brother to Ahmar and Asfura, was the last foal of Queen of Sheba, who had become the most highly regarded of the Blunt desert mares. She lived to 25 and produced 10 foals but had only two daughters of record. Queen of Egypt died as a yearling; Asfura’s daughter Ajramieh did establish the family as a respected one that has always been small in numbers. Queen of Sheba has strong indirect influence; besides the Ahmar daughters already named, *Astraled and his sons Rustem, Razaz, Sotamm and Gulastra all were top sires of broodmares. Queen of Sheba’s name is another to be repeated in pedigrees with remarkable frequency, and the most international Mesaoud sire branch, that of *Astraled via Sotamm to Riffal and Oran, was notable for its Queen of Sheba reinforcement. Mesaoud had one major son outside Crabbet; the beautiful Azrek mare Rose Diamond was sold to the Hon. George Savile in 1903 and duly presented him the next year with Lal I Abdar (*Abu Zeyd), another from whom the male line persists.
Two new Ali Pasha Sherif sire lines were established at Crabbet in this phase. Mahruss GSB, chiefly a riding stallion, bred just four Arab mares in England; he sent *Ibn Mahruss to America en utero and got one Crabbet foal: *Rose of Sharon’s mighty son Rijm. That massive chestnut was admired for his scope, presence, freedom of stride and excellence of shoulder, back and loin. Before his sale to Spain Rijm contributed to the Crabbet tradition as sire of the breeding stallions *Nasik, Fakreddin and *Nureddin II; of the widely influential daughters Nessima, Fejr, *Noam, Belka and *Rijma; and of the great early endurance gelding *Crabbet. *Noam and Belka also distinguished themselves under saddle. Feysul came from Sheykh Obeyd with his son Ibn Yashmak late in 1904 and promptly sired the impressively smooth 1906 chestnut Rasim. Rasim served as a riding stallion for his first 11 years and narrowly missed going off as a charger with Neville Lytton in the First World War. His two eldest daughters were key figures of the Kellogg importation and Rasim became extremely influential in the Wentworth years.
The important mares foaled in this era included Ahmar’s Hilmyeh and Namusa, Rish by Nejran, and good daughters of the Mesaoud sons Rejeb, Seyal and Narkise, but if this was the dawn of a new day the sunlight radiated from superb daughters of Mesaoud and *Astraled. Feluka, dam of the Rijm siblings Fejr (to produce *Felestin; *Sulejman’s and Rasim Pierwszy’s dam Fasila; Faris, sire of Rissalix; Ferhan, sire of Indian Gold; and Fayal) and the Australian sire Fakreddin; of the greatest Kellogg foundation mare, *Ferda; and after her sale to H. V. Musgrave Clark of Fasiha, established the Ferida line with a vengeance. If Narghileh was not the greatest Mesaoud daughter then that honor must go to Ridaa’s 1900 filly Risala, dam of Rasim, *Rijma, Rissla, Razieh (Bint Rissala), Risfan (South America) and Rafina, a line foundress in Australia; few sires have ever had the equivalent of an *Astraled and a Risala in the same crop, as Mesaoud did in 1900. Rosemary produced two full sisters, the bay Rabla and brown Riada; the former founded an exuberant family still noted for action horses and the latter died of twisted gut, leaving just one breeding offspring, but that was Rayya, dam of *Raseyn. The records of the handsome grey Kibla, Ajramieh and Hamasa look pale in this company but each founded a major line in the breed.
A case could be made that Daoud and *Astraled, with fewer daughters, were better mare sires than Mesaoud. It must be remembered that all three were extensively used on mares of, by this time, highly selected Crabbet families; and above all that their daughters profited from a coherent, established context in which to operate. Riyala, the most important *Astraled mare of this period, produced Ranya, dam of Bint Ranya and the persistent Spanish influence Razada; Rafeef, sire of Nezma, *Rasafa and the superlative Risslina; the prolific Risama (Bint Riyala); the Hanstead matron Razina, the broodmare of her generation in England, granddam of Indian Magic, *Serafix, *Silver Drift, *Iorana, Bright Shadow, Namilla, Oran, Sala and *Count Dorsaz just to start the list; Ramayana, sold to Poland with Fasila and represented by Polish and Russian families today; Ruellia, who sent a son Riyalan to Australia and then went to Tersk; and Raftan, sire of Naseel, Ariffa and Doonyah. Rokhama by *Astraled bred on through just one daughter but that was *Rokhsa, who founded one of the greatest Maynesboro and Kellogg families.
Partition and The War Years: 1907 – 1918
The first foal crop for the partitioned Crabbet and Newbuildings mares arrived in 1907. Wilfrid Blunt’s chief sires in the Newbuildings half were to be *Astraled, Rijm, Harb, Ibn Yashmak and Rustem; Lady Anne at Crabbet had Feysul, Daoud, *Berk, Razaz, Sotamm and *Nasik (not all these were active as early as 1907). Blunt breeding presents a considerably more complicated picture from this point. Under the terms of partition, Crabbet and Newbuildings mares could be sent to sires standing in the alternate half, and no breeding animal (current or potential) could be sold without approval of the other side. In practice it developed that when Blunt needed money, Newbuildings horses which Lady Anne would be unwilling to see sold appeared on his sales list; and when Lady Anne wished to use a Newbuildings sire she bought or traded for him or one of his sons.
The foals reported dead in GSB for this period fell to just over 8% (14 out of 167) and 54 of the remaining 167 are in modern pedigrees–some of them very prominently indeed. Rodania now reigned supreme; Dajania’s family was a distant second while the Seglawi Meshura and Basilisk lines were fading as Sobha picked up speed. Average number of foals per sire at this period was still about 13. With substantial numbers of mares in production and some of the great sires of its history at their peak of activity, and with the individual geniuses of the two Blunts operating independently from a base of nearly 30 years’ observation of Crabbet breeding trends, it would be surprising if this period did not turn out some of Crabbet’s greatest products. Do not expect to be surprised.
One major sire exported in this period was *Astraled, who went to Lothrop Ames in Massachusetts in 1909; American Arabian breeding was not ready for a sire of this caliber and *Astraled landed in Oregon as a Remount sire, leaving just a handful of foals in New England. *Astraled became a legendary sire of crossbred using horses in his new home only to be called back to the place that had been prepared for him by W.R. Brown in 1923, in time to sire the great Gulastra in his last crop. Note that for the Blunts *Astraled got Riyala, Rustem, Rim and *Ramla from *Rose of Sharon’s daughter Ridaa; the only breeding *Astraled offspring from his early New England years was Kheyra, out of Ridaa’s half-sister Rosa Rugosa; and at Maynesboro Gulastra came from a daughter of Ridaa’s half-brother *Rodan.
It was during the years of partition that *Astraled got his important Crabbet sons, Razaz, Rustem and Sotamm. Rustem remained at Newbuildings where he got Rustnar, *Ferda, Arusa, Rayya and *Simawa. Rayya produced *Raseyn and *Ferda is in a class by herself among the Kellogg matrons, while *Simawa proved one of the best mares of the Maynesboro importation. Lady Anne used Razaz and Sotamm; the former sired important mares while the latter got the Australian mare sire Rief and Kasmeyn, a mare sire in his own right in Egypt (maternal grandsire of *Bint Bint Sabbah and Nazeer just for two), and Naufal who sired other foals beyond Riffal though that was his great success. Riffal left the important sire Oran in England along with the good mares Samsie, Nariffa, Quaker Girl (herself exported to Australia), Rubiana and *Mihrima (Canada); his sons The Chief and *Victory Day II bred on in the Netherlands and Canada respectively while the Riffal influence through his Australian get is incalculable.
*Astraled could have sired no colts and done very well for himself through daughters; his post-partition Newbuildings fillies included Rim and Selima, two of the breed’s dynastic matrons. Rim produced the likes of *Ramim, dam of Rehal and Ramghaza; *Rifla, dam of *Rifda, Rifnas and Shemseh; the ill-fated *Raswan, sire at Crabbet of Ferhan, *Rose of France and Star of the Hills (his only get), “World’s Champion” Raseem, one of the great mare sires of British history, though at Tersk he was surpassed by his daughter Rixalina; Naharin’s dam *Rimini; the Selby import *Rahal; *Rimal, a colt of remarkable beauty, gelded after his Kellogg importation; Rix, sire of *Ashan, *Crown of India, Radiolex and Shimrix; and *Nizzam’s and Niseyra’s sire Rissam. Selima’s noted foals do not match Rim’s for numbers but their influence spread extravagantly; all her breeding offspring were exported but her British influence remained substantial. Shareer, another “World’s Champion,” left Rythal, Rytham, Rythama and Sharima behind when he went to Russia accompanied by his great daughter Rissalma (in fact Rythal already was in Holland and Rytham went along on the Tersk trip but left the tremendously influential Sharfina, his only British foal, at Crabbet en utero). Shareer’s sister Sardhana produced *Crabbet Sura in England and founded a mare line in Poland when she accompanied Rasim, Fasila and Ramayana to Baron Bicker’s stud. Star of the Hills left Starilla to represent her in England (which she did ably through her son Saladin II) when Star traveled to Russia, where she founded one of the most important Tersk families. The Selby colt *Selmian was not used in England – he was sold at age three – but he got Selfra, Selmiana and Ibn Selmian among others.
Copyright 1990 by Michael Bowling, used by permission
Originally published in Arabian Visions March/April 1990
Minor Pedigree Lines From Imported Blunt Mares
Hagar, a dark bay without markings and with a “strange, wild head,” distinguished herself as a riding mare on the Blunts’ first desert journey: she was not considered a first-class mare at Crabbet but came to have first-class descent. Her great-granddaughter Howa was the foundation mare for Miss May Lyon’s Harwood Stud, still maintained today by Miss Lyon’s heirs, the Calvert family. Hagar was among the mares sold by the Blunts to the Hon. Miss Ethelred Dillon and she produced at Miss Dillon’s Pudlicote Stud *Hauran, sire of *Nessa and for Spencer Borden of Bazrah’s dam Bathsheba; *Hail, sire of Riad; and Zem Zem, whose daughter Zimrud is widespread including a tail female branch in the important modern British family of Bint Yasimet. The Zimrud line later returned to Crabbet in the person of *Nurreddin II’s show-jumper son Jeruan, sire of *Rishafieh and *Jerama before his sale to Tersk. Another Zem Zem branch descends from Hilal, sire of *Ibn Hilal.
Jerboa, bright bay with three white feet and a star, was the first of several mares to attempt to found a “J” family at Crabbet, where initial J did not prove a lucky letter. Jerboa is in modern pedigrees through her son and daughter Jeroboam and Jerud, full siblings by Pharoah. Jeroboam got Rodania’s daughter Rosemary and so is a widespread influence. Jerud produced at Crabbet and for Miss Dillon and from the latter connection is responsible for Jamrood by Maidan, sire of Hagar’s son *Hail and of Zem Zem’s daughter Zimrud.
Wild Thyme, bay with a star, was purchased because it was thought her strain, Kehilan Ras el-Fedawi, was also that of the Thoroughbred founder the Darley Arabian; the Blunts also imported a Ras el-Fedawi colt, called Darley. They later found that the original Darley had been a Maneghi; the Blunt Darley was a washout at stud and Wild Thyme was not much more highly regarded. She produced for the Blunts and for other owners, and her daughter Raschida (originally Wild Honey) was another to produce for Miss Dillon. Raschida produced Riad and has a substantial family in this country through her daughters *Nessa and *Mahal, imported by Borden before the Darley connection was disproved.
Sherifa, a white mare, was the senior individual of the first importation and probably the most highly esteemed, for the beauty of her head and for her character. She lived to an estimated age of 30 and left an active family at Crabbet, but the line trailed out around 1907 and she is represented in modern pedigrees only through her daughter Shemse by Pharaoh. Shemse had been sold from Crabbet in foal to Azrek and produced a grey colt, Ben Azrek, who got two registered daughters; Ruth Kesia from the non-Crabbet Borak [(Boanerges x Kesia II) and so blood sister to Borden’s import *Imamzada]; and Sheeba, whose dam Riad was 87.5% Blunt breeding. Ruth Kesia is widely influential through Shahzada by Mootrub and *Nuri Pasha by *Nureddin II; the latter’s sister Krim left a family in England. Sheeba breeds on through the mare sire Nuri Sherif, also by Nureddin II.
Dahma, a dark bay with star, snip, some white on all four feet, though not a familiar name in England or America, cannot be dismissed as a minor influence internationally for her daughter Dahna’s is one of the most extensively branched families in Australian breeding.
Jedrania, a bay, was the second J mare; she and her daughter Jebel Druz produced for the Blunts but she breeds on only through her Dillon son Jezail by *Imamzada, the sire of Hagar’s son *Hauran.
Meshura, a bright bay with four white feet and a blaze, was a distinguished individual and half-sister to the Blunt sire Pharaoh; their half-sister was dam of Azrek and Basilisk was from the same immediate family. Meshura founded a female line which reached several generations at Crabbet and outside, but is present today only through indirect lines. Her daughter Mansura (only offspring of Ashgar in pedigrees) produced Mareb by Mesaoud and he left descent through one daughter, Mareesa. Mabruka by Azrek produced Marhaba, dam of the Selby mare sire *Mirzam. Maisuna by Mesaoud was responsible for the male-line founder Joseph, sire of Rosh and Manasseh and of good mares.
Jilfa, again a bay with a star, was the third of the J mares. Her influence persists only through Jamusa, sold to the Hon. R.E.L. Vaughan Williams along with Mareb. That pair had a string of offspring in GSB but the line was founded by the filly Mareesa, who visited *Berk and Rasim at Crabbet to produce the glamorous Alfarouse and the less noticeable but more productive Yaquta respectively. Alfarouse breeds on through her sons Almulid, Ajeeb and Azym; there is a thin modern female line from Jilfa via Yaquta (thanks to Nyla Eshelman for pinning this line down).
Fulana, a dark brown with off hind sock and near fore coronet, was another who seemed for a time to be founding a Crabbet family. Her English branches all failed, and Fulana’s only descent today is through her very handsome Mesaoud son Faraoun with two important daughters in Australian pedigrees.
Johara, chestnut elder sister of the “broken legged” Bint Helwa, was marked with blaze, near hind sock and a small mark outside off hind. Two daughters produced at Crabbet but the thin lines from Johara today all descend from her great-granddaughter Jawi-Jawi.