Tag Archives: Crabbet

The Founding of the Crabbet Tradition (Part I)

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Partition Agreement

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

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

The Crabbet Foundation

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

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

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

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

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


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

Crabbet: The First Years: 1879-1888

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

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

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

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

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

The Transition 1889-1898

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

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

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

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

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

Sources and Further Reading

History and Biography:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Bedouin of Arabia and His Horse: from Upton’s Gleanings from the Desert of Arabia


Excerpts from Upton’s Gleanings from the Desert of Arabia compiled by Jeanne Craver used by permission of Jeanne Craver

AL KHAMSA is an organization of people devoted to furthering the survival of the asil* horse of Bedouin Arabia by means of education and research in a social climate which draws the owners and admirers of such horses together in a friendly and cooperative way.”

The following list of migratory, horse-breeding tribes of Bedouins have provided the ancestors of AL KHAMSA ARABIANS: The Anazah confederation, consisting of the Amarat, the Fid’an, the Ruala, the Saba, the Wuld Ali, the Wuld Sulayman; the Shammar (northern and southern branches), the Ajman, the Atayban, the Banu Hajr, the Banu Khalid, the Dhafir, the Dawasir, the Muntifiq, the Muteyr, the Qahtan.


These two quotes from the reference book Al Khamsa Arabians, pages 8 and 16 respectively, bring up the questions: Just who were these migrating, horse-breeding tribes of Bedouins? and why, if there were “Arabian horses” all over the middle east, does Al Khamsa list these tribes as sources of their horses? To present some answers to these questions, we turn to Maj. R.D.Upton, who, in his Gleanings, gives us one of the best accounts, although certainly not the only one available, of these people and their horses. Written about Upton’s journey to Arabia in 1875, Gleanings was originally published in 1881. Upton had passed away earlier in the year, and perhaps for that reason, only a very small printing was made, and it has been very difficult to find a copy of this valuable book. Fortunately, Olms Presse, Hildesheim, West Germany, has reprinted this important work and it is available in paperback form at very reasonable cost.

Excerpts from Upton, Maj. R.D.: Gleanings from the Desert of Arabia, originally by C.Kegan Paul & Co., I, Paternoster Square, London, 1881, reprinted by Olms Presse, 1985, Hildesheim, Zurich, New York.

THE PEOPLE pp. 205-211:

“The Badaween of Arabia are neither savages nor barbarians…they are not poor, miserable outcasts…The tribes of Badaween are very numerous, some poorer, some very rich and powerful; collectively they are a great, free, rich, pastoral, and at the same time a warlike people, and have no exact parallel in history. The Badaween have laws of their own, a traditional code of morality strictly kept, a policy as between tribe and tribe, and a system of government in each tribe, and alliances, which are faithfully observed. Besides single tribes, small or great, each under the guidance and rule of its own Shaykh, there are confederations of tribes, over which the Shaykh of one particular tribe holds, to a considerable extent, great influence, if not actually supreme authority. Such a Shaykh can summon the others to councils for deliberation, or collect the tribes of the confederation for war.

“There are many families which have become so numerous or important that they constitute tribes within their own parent tribe; some of these have separated from the parent tribe and formed confederations; yet, after the lapse of generations, intercourse and alliances with their ancestral people are kept up. “… among some tribes and confederations there is perpetual and hereditary hostility; such, for instance, exists to only between the whole race of Anazah and the Shammar Arabs, but between every individual Anazah and Shammar Arab. Some tribes which are less powerful, especially those who are to some extent located in the northern parts of the desert, ally themselves with greater tribes…By this arrangement the weak tribes have the benefit and right of protection when attacked by tribes hostile to the protecting tribe …

“The Badawee, although free and independent in thought and action, and ill brooking restraint, has great respect for his laws. When the Shaykh enters his tent, where scores of his people may be collected (they look upon the Shaykh’s tent as a kind upon being told by him to do so. When he is once seated, he rarely rises to received any one. I heard that a singular exception to this custom exists, and that the mark of respect of rising is usually shown to the possessor of any celebrated mare, when such a one enters the tent of the Shaykh…The real armour of the Badaween horseman, offensive and defensive, is the speed of his mare.

“The office of Shaykh is not hereditary … but is usually held for life. When a Shaykh dies, his heir may be set aside, and the most worthy or popular man in the tribe appointed his successor; it is generally some member of the late Shaykh’s family … A Shaykh is generally a wealthy man, so that he may be able to exercise hospitality to strangers, and help or maintain the poor of his tribe … In certain tribes there are persons of acknowledged penetration in legal matters, and such, by common consent, are allowed to act as judges…

“The Akeed is the military leader of a tribe; he is also elected for life by popular vote. The two chiefs, the Shaykh and Akeed, rule in turn, as their tribe amy be at peace or war. But there are instances of both offices being vested in the same person, as in the case of … Jadaan ibn Mahaid of the Fadan (Anazah)

“… The Badaween … are not naturally aggressive, but wonderfully tenacious, and, except under the influence of great excitement — such as was the case after the death of Mohammed… — the Badaween are more inclined to hold their own than to become a dominating race…Their intelligence is undeniable, their perception quick, their imagination lively, their wit keen…

“The Badaween, for the convenience of description only, may be divided into three classes: those who migrate but little, and are to be found in the desert bordering upon Yaman, Hijaz, Palestine and Syria, and along the right bank of the Euphrates; those who have crossed the Euphrates; and those who migrate or roam all over the deserts. To those who migrate but little must be added the Badaween of the Najd and central province of Arabia.”

pp. 246-249:

“All Badaween as a rule, are free from many of the maladies incident to settled populations, whether civilized or uncivilized; their habits, their mode of life, their exclusion from other nations and people, the absence of illicit connections, all tend to keep them sound and healthy, and marrying among their own people preserves not only the purity of their race, but by it their characteristics are retained. The customs observed among all Badaween are even more rigidly kept among the Anazah; they are more exclusive, more conservative. .. the Arabs, and especially the Badaween tribes of the desert, require to be understood (which at present they are not) before attempting to interfere with them… Faults they may have, both many and great — what people has not? — but they have many and great virtues, and are of a noble and generous character. Let it be remembered that for centuries their worst features have been called forth and noised abroad, their excellences have been hid among themselves in the desert. Not only this, but the crimes and faults of other nationalities have been heaped upon their heads; for in the ignorance which has existed in Europe among highly civilized communities, Arabs have been confusedly mixed up and classed with Turks and other races and peoples of the East in general, which are not well known, or may possess the religion, not of Islam, but what passes for it generally.”

THE ARABIAN BREED pp. 269-272:

“The term ‘Arabian horse’ expresses a breed or race in a restricted sense — the horse of the Arabs. Horses of other countries cannot be defined in the same manner… but among the tribes of the desert of Arabia, the Arabian is the only horse. He is one by himself…What general knowledge there may be of the Arabian horse has been, for the greater part, acquired from horses in India, Syria, and Egypt, or from horses occasionally sent to this country as presents from Constantinople or elsewhere – indeed, from horses, or accounts of them, from very many countries, districts, and peoples, rather than from actual acquaintance with the horses of Arabia, and more especially with those tribes of the interior desert, who have the best horses …

“Horses are not numerous in Arabia, certainly not in proportion to the size and extent of the country, and the supply, I consider, is not greater than to meet the demand of the country. There are many parts of Arabia in which the horse is rarely, and perhaps some in which he is never seen. Although of Arabia alone, the Arabian horse may be said to belong rather to certain families or tribes in the desert of Arabia, than to the country or people at large.”

pp 353-354:

“Allusion has been made by certain authors to ‘studs’ in Arabia. This may cause misapprehension, as it is inferred that there are different breeds of Arabians, and that these breeds have their several and separate localities. I never heard of any such existing, unless, indeed, the system of collecting and breeding horses in Erack by the people who supply the Indian market, can be considered in the light of a breeding stud. The Imam of Muscat, the family of Ibn Sawood at Riad, and the Sherif of Mekka have private establishments of horses, but these are more or less supplied or replenished by horses from the desert tribes. In the desert, and in certain portions of the Badaween race, lies the real home of the Arabian horse, and this is especially so in the case of particular tribes of the great Anazah family. In Arabia itself, among the Badaween, the horse is indigenous. A variety of different breeds are not to be found there; the Keheilan is the only horse. The Keheilan is to be found in such tribes as have horses. In some tribes there are very few, the Shaykhs and leading men being the only ones possessed of horses — a mule or two each, and perhaps a horse for the use of the camp or tribe. It is in certain particular tribes of the Anazah race that horses are chiefly reared and to be found; these are the property of private individuals, and a poor man, or a poor family, may often have the best. It by no means follows as a matter of course that the Shaykh of a tribe has the best mares…”

pp. 272-275:

“In certain towns…Arabian horses may be found in the possession of families or persons of good social standing, or of officials of high rank; but these, for the most part, are acquired from the neighboring deserts … That horses are to be found in a wild state in the deserts of Arabia is a fallacy. I never heard of such a thing hinted at in the desert.

“In the whole of Arabia, the Anazah, a great race of Badaween, dating back to remote antiquity, composed of many tribes…the most powerful, the most important in the country, have the best horses. This is by the general consent of all Arabs, and of all conversant with the subject. Another general impression, urged by several writers, that there are many breeds of Arabian, has, I suspect, arisen from mistaking the various distinguishing names of strains of the same blood for separate or distinct breeds. Such are often only the names of owners, and some have been given or added from some feature or incident which caused an animal to be peculiar, or which had rendered him or herself famous, and which names are applied to the offspring generation after generation…

“I consider there was but one breed or race of horses in Arabia, i.e. the Arabian horse, so called from the country, or, with more truth, from being the horse of the Arabs, is of one origin, and was derived from several later varieties of the horse family.

‘The Arabian horse is of the Kuhl race. Keheilan is the generic name of the Kuhl or Arabian breed of horses. Thus a true Arabian horse is a Keheilan, and a mare a Keheilet — fem.”

THE HORSE pp. 330-343:

“In the Keheilan or genuine Arabian horse (speaking in general terms from seeing a number of horses and mares at one time), setting on one side what may be called their great personal beauty, you are at once struck by the general appearance of character, of blood or high breeding — which features are very conspicuous — and their great general >length. ‘What reach, what stride these horses must have! They are natural born racers,’ we both exclaimed at once. (Ed. Upton was joined on this trip to Saba Anazah by Mr. Skene, at that time HM Consul in Aleppo. Mr. Skene later helped the Blunts decide to begin their Crabbet stud.) One is equally struck by the perfectly natural appearance of the Keheilan: he presents in his form of undisturbed structure the evidence of his origin from an uncontaminated stock, in the same manner as do lions, tigers, and other animals which have been left undisturbed in a free and natural state and have not come under the destructive influence of man…

“The head is very beautiful — not only pleasing to the eye in its graceful outline, but beautiful from its grand development of the sensorial organ, and the delicacy of such parts as are more subservient. It is not particularly small or short in its whole length, in proportion to the size or height of the horse, but it is large above the eyes, small and short from the eyes to the muzzle. The centre of the eye more nearly divides the length of the head into equal parts than is observable in other horses…The head of the horse of the Anazah especially tapers very much from the eyes to the muzzle, and the lower jaw does so equally or even in a greater degree to the under lip, and if these lines were prolonged, they would meet or cut each other at a short distance only beyond the tips of the nose. The nostril, which is peculiarly long, not round, runs upwards towards the face, and is also set up outwards from the nose like the mouth of a pouch or sack which has been tied. This is very beautiful feature, and can hardly be appreciated except by sight; when it expands, it opens both upwards and outwards, and in profile is seen to extend beyond the outline of the nose, and when the animal is excited the head of this description appears to be made up of forehead, eyes, and nostrils…

“The frontal and parietal bones, or walls of the skull above, are large, bold, well developed, and often prominent. The brain cavity is capacious, giving an appearance and power almost human. The nasal bones, on the other hand, are fine and subservient to the frontal, and of a delicate and graceful outline. The orbits of the eye are large and prominent; the eye is full, large, and lustrous. It is very beautiful; the beauty is not so much dependent upon the size of the eye visible through the eyelids, as it is derived from its depth and expression. The part of the eyeball seen between the eyelids may not be so large as is often to be seen in other horses, but it is very full; standing on one side of the animal, and a little behind, the fulness of the ball and its prominence are very observable, and when the animal is excited the eye displays much fire, but it is seldom that any of the white is seen. The lids are particularly fine, the eyelashes long and silky. The face is lean and full of fine drawing. The muzzle is particularly fine; the lips long and thin (not fleshy); the upper lip well cut or chiselled; the lower lip small, well formed, compressed, and terse. The nostril in a state of repose is very long, beautifully curled, delicate, and thin: when the horse is in action or excited, the nostril opens very wide, and gives a bold, square, sharp and vigorous expression; the lower jaws are fine, clean, and set wide apart; the cheek-bones are sharply cut; the ears are beautifully shaped, pointed, and well placed, and point inwards in a marked and peculiar manner, which is considered a point of great beauty, and a great sign of high or pure breeding. The neck is of moderate length, and of a graceful curve or gently arch from the poll to the withers; it is neither a light, weak neck, nor a heavy neck, but it is a strong, light, and muscular neck, with the splenius muscle well developed. The junction of the head and neck is very graceful; the head is well set on. The withers are high and run well back, are well developed and not too narrow or thin. The back is short; the loins are powerful, the croup high, the haunch very fine, the tail well set on, and the dock short. The quarters are both long and deep; the gaskins sufficiently full and muscular without being heavy, ponderous, or vulgar; the thighs are well let down; the hocks are clean, large, well formed, well placed, and near the ground. The shoulders are long and powerful, well developed, but light at the points; the scapulae are long and of a good slope, and broad at the base. The arms are long, lean, and muscular; deep square and deep; the trapezium, or bone at the back of the knee, is very prominent. The legs are short, deep, and of fair-sized bone; the tendons and ligaments large and well strung. The fetlock-joint is large and bold; the pasterns are long, large, sloping, very elastic, and strong; the feet wide and open at the heels, and not very high in the desert. The chest is both deep and capacious…His body, or trunk, behind the chest is small, but formed like a barrel. He is essentially short above, but long below…The skin is fine; the hair is short, soft, and silky: the skin is seen through the hairs to a greater degree than in other horses. The mane and tail are long, and hair often very fine. The whole of the hinder parts, from the haunch to the heels, taken collectively or in detail, show great length. there is also a width of haunch noticeable indeed not only in the horses of the Anazah, but in most desert-bred Arabians in so marked a degree as to be almost a distinguishing feature…

“The Arabs are very particular with regard to three points in connection with the head of their horse: the Jibbah, or forehead; the Mitbeh, or form of the throat at its junction with the head; and the shape, size, direction, and attitude of the ears.

“The Jibbah, or forehead, can scarcely be too large or too prominent to please an Arab… The shape of the Jibbah in which the Arab delights, gives a large brain cavity, adds greatly to the beauty of the head, and gives an expression of great nobility…The Mitbeh is a term used to express the manner in which the head is set on to the neck, and especially refers to the form of the windpipe, and to the manner in which the throat enters or runs in between the jaws, where it should have a slight and graceful curve…This, of course, gives great freedom to the air passages: and the Keheilan is essentially a deep-breathed and a good and longwinded horse.

“The ears to be perfect should be so placed that they point inwards, so that the tips may almost touch; the outline of the inner side of the ear should be much curved, and, as it were, notched about halfway down. In the horse the ears are generally smaller and more pricked; in the mare they are usually rather longer and more open…

“It is not uncommon for Arab horses to stand back, more or less, at the knees. Many are stag-legged, in fact. There is no prejudice among the Arabs against such a formation; many do not like it in England…All desert-bred Arabs, at least, have a long, striding, free walk. When trotting…the hind legs of the Arabian appear to be, and often may be, too long, and there is too much reach for a pleasant trotting pace; yet with good riding, some will trot grandly: but it is far more labor to the Arabian than galloping, who from the present length of the hind extremities, and his reach, is essentially a galloper by nature…

“In height…the Anazah horse ranges from about fourteen hands one inch and a half to fifteen hands, but generally just under the latter height. We remarked that we did not see any that we thought as low as fourteen hands, or even, perhaps, fourteen hands one inch; some we measured proved to be fourteen hands three inches, which is a very general height; and several would be found, I have no doubt, quite fifteen hands. The height hardly varies a hand.”

Travelers Rest

by Dr. George H. Conn (Western Horseman Jul ’51)


Travelers Rest farm was established in 1792 near Nashville, Tennessee. It was established by John Overton, who came to that community about 1789 and who was a law partner of Andrew Jackson and served on the supreme court of Tennessee after that state was admitted to the Union. The original Travelers Rest farm remained in the family of John Overton and his descendants until 1938, and during this time it became famous for the high quality of its Thoroughbred, Morgan, trotting and saddle horses.

Due to the fact that the original Travelers Rest farm was located but a short distance from Nashville, which has grown to be a city of more than 250,000 people, it became necessary in 1938 to abandon the original Travelers Rest which was then moved to Franklin, Tennessee.

The late Travelers Rest farm was owned and maintained by Gen. J. M. Dickinson, who added Arabian horses to his breeding operations in 1930. When it became necessary to abandon the original Travelers Rest, Dickinson disposed of his other horses and kept only the Arabs for future breeding and maintenance of the Travelers Rest Stud on Del Rio Pike, near Franklin, Tennessee.

Horse lovers of all kinds will be very vitally interested in the following quotation of John Trotwood Moore which is printed on the inside front cover of the Travelers Rest Arabian horse catalogs. The quotation which was first used in advertising the famous American Saddle stallion, McDonald Chief, of the old Travelers Rest, is as follows:

“Out from the past, the dim, bloody, shifting past, came this noble animal, the horse, side by side with man, fighting with him the battles of progress, bearing with him the burdens of the centuries. Down the long, hard road, through flint or mire, through swamp or sand, wherever there has been a footprint, there also will be seen a hoofprint. They have been one and inseparable, the aim and the object, the means and the end. And if the time shall ever come, as some boastingly declare, when the one shall breed away from the other, the puny relic of a once perfect manhood will not live long enough to trace the record of it on the tablet of time.”


The author of this article had the privilege of meeting Gen. Dickinson and discussing with him briefly some phases of Arabian horse breeding, and my impression is that Gen. Dickinson had the most sound and practical ideas about the commercial production of Arabian horses of any breeder in the United States up to this time. Dickinson’s ideas in general were that you should breed good Arabian horses and sell them honestly and fairly to the most satisfactory buyers you could find. In other words, he followed very closely the policy of many of the earlier breeders of Arabian horses throughout the world. That the reader may fully understand Gen. Dickinson’s policies, we quote from the 1941 revised edition of a catalog of Travelers Rest, as follows:

We have acquired and bred Arabian horses of the purest blood and most satisfactory individual excellence. Some of these horses have met and defeated many of the best known Arabians in the United States, including imported horses with championship records, in shows and in other competitive events that have been widely advertised in this country and abroad, open to all purebred Arabian horses, and in which horses have competed from all sections of the United States and even from overseas. Various Travelers Rest Arabian horses have made creditable showings against horses of other breeds in the latters’ specialties, and have won honors abroad.

Of course we wish to sell the produce of our stud, for we are breeding Arabs for the market rather than for the purpose of making a collection. However, there are certain things we are unwilling to do in order to sell more horses. For one thing, we refuse to poison anyone’s mind against other breeds. We will tell you what the Arab has done and what we believe the Arab can do; but it is not our affair to persuade you that some other horse is undesirable.

We consider it a bad policy to endeavor to sell a horse to a man who does not want it, or whose requirements it cannot fill. Only a bad product requires bad sales methods. We consider the Arab colt to be a good product that will sell itself to the customer who recognizes quality when he sees it.

“Then we are unwilling to argue that our horses are better than all other Arabs. Such claims are made for various studs. Obviously, they cannot be true of all.

“Arab horses from Travelers Rest have been successful in various kinds of competition at home and abroad. They seem to be giving satisfaction in 40 of our states and territories, and a dozen foreign countries. A substantial proportion of our sales is made to customers who have bought from us in the past, and to their friends and acquaintances.

“We believe success depends upon pleasing every customer as much as possible, and we bend every reasonable effort to sell the product of our stud where most apt to give satisfaction. We believe we now have and are breeding better Arabs than in the past, and offer our produce at prices commensurate with costs and maintenance. It is our earnest hope that every Travelers Rest Arabian horse will prove to be satisfactory and worth more than is paid for it.”


In discussing the breeding of Arabian horses with Gen. Dickinson in 1945, he told the author that it was the policy of Travelers Rest to price all Arabian colts of a sex at a standard price. At that time my recollection is that all horse colts were priced at $400 at weaning time, and an additional $50 was added to the price every six months until sold. Fillies were priced at $600 at weaning time and $50 was added to the price every six months until sold. Gen. Dickinson made it quite plain in discussing these prices that he did not at any time make an attempt to get a higher price than quoted for these colts even though some may have shown greater quality than others. At this time he was ambitious to have 50 broodmares producing purebred Arabian colts in his stud.

Travelers Rest Arabian stud was maintained at Franklin, Tenn, until 1946, at which time it was moved to Santa Barbara, Calif., where it was maintained for two years. Much of the breeding stock of this famous stud was returned to Tennessee in 1948, and in 1949 this stud was dispersed, going to a purchaser in Cuba.

The original Arabs purchased for Travelers Rest were secured from Maynesboro stud of Wm. R. Brown. Mr. Dickinson purchased almost the complete importation that Mr. Brown made from the desert, including Nasr, the white Arabian stallion, and the famous Hamida mares together with Aziza. Other breeding stock added to Travelers Rest in the early years consisted of Bazleyd, the national champion Arabian stallion known as the “peerless show horse,” and Gulastra and Kolastra, his son, all of which were bred by Wm. R. Brown’s Maynesboro stud. In addition to the above stallions, Mr. Dickenson secured two very famous grey Arabian mares, Guemura and Gulnare, both bred at Col. Spencer Borden’s Interlachen farm and which were purchased from Mr. Borden by Wm. R. Brown, who in turn sold them to Dickinson. One of the most widely known stallions owned in the early years by Travelers Rest was Antez, which became a very famous running Arabian and which was exported to Poland when he was 15 years old, where he raced very successfully for five years, being returned to the United States just before World War II.

In 1937 Gen. Dickinson made an importation of Arabian horses from Poland and Egypt. This importation consisted of seven grey mares from Poland and a gray mare, Maamouna, which was secured from the Royal Agricultural Society of Cairo, Egypt. Among this importation from Poland the following mares have been very successful in the stud: Przepiorka, Lassa, Liliana and Nora.

Travelers Rest imported in early 1939 a grey stallion, Czubuthan, No. 1499, from Poland. Czubuthan’s first foal arrived on april 3, 1940, and he went on to become the sire of the largest number of purebred Arabian horses from 1940 to 1948, and he was also tied with Raffles for the sire of the third largest number of Arabian foals registered in the Arabian stud book. (1)


Several other well-known horses found their way to the Travelers Rest Arabian stud farm from time to time. Among the better known Arabs used in this breeding stud we refer to such Arabs as the bay mare Aire, bred in Argentina, and Kasztelanka, the bay mare bred in Poland and imported by Henry B. Babson, as well as the mare Kostrzewa, also bred in Poland and imported by Babson. The well known grey mare Roda, now owned by Margaret Shuey, of North Carolina, and imported by Wm. R. Brown, was also in the stud at one time, as was the mare Rose of France, which was bred at Crabbet Stud, in England, and imported by Roger A. Selby. Zarife, the famous Egyptian stallion which was imported by Wm. R. Brown, found his way to the Travelers Rest Stud and from there he was purchased by Van Vleet’s Lazy V V Ranch where he died in late 1950.

In the 19 years of their breeding operations, Travelers Rest produced many well known horses. It is apparent that they made no special effort to accumulate unusual honors for their horses, but were willing at all times to let them earn what honors they could in a general way in competition wherever and however they found it. Among some of the better known horses produced at this breeding establishment we refer to Bataan, who was used at the old Kellogg ranch while known as the Pomona Quartermaster Depot; Chepe-Noyon, a well known breeding stallion; Genghis Khan, a well known jumping horse; Jedran, a gaited Arabian horse winning in American Saddle horse classes; Nafud, another prize winner in Saddlebred competition, as well as many others which were successful in various show classifications.

Travelers Rest made consistent, steady growth for many years, and shortly before it was transferred to Santa Barbara, Calif., it was probably the second largest Arabian breeding farm in the United States, being exceeded only by the Kellogg Ranch, which was then under the direction of the Pomona Quartermaster Depot. At the height of their breeding operations, Travelers Rest produced in the neighborhood of 30 purebred foals a year. While the writer does not have the exact figures, it is his judgment that this stud at one time contained nearly 80 head of purebred registered Arabian horses.

From the 1947 catalog of Travelers Rest horses we find that during the lifetime of this famous stud, up to the close of 1946, they had bred and sold 274 purebred Arabian horses. These horses were sold to 40 or more of the states in the United States of America and were also sold and exported to 13 foreign countries. At least 37 of these Arabian horses and colts were exported to these 13 foreign countries, principally to South American countries. We find that seven head were exported to Mexico, nine head to the Republic of Columbia, six to Hawaii, three to Cuba, three to England, and two to Guatemala, and one each to seven other foreign countries. It must seem to the reader from the information given here that Travelers Rest Arabian Stud was, for the nearly 20 years that it was in existence, a very important factor in the development and popularizing of the Arabian breed in America. We take pleasure in quoting a short statement from this last catalog of 1947 which is entitled, “To the Arabian Horse.” We do not know by whom the quotation was originally made, but it is very typical and interesting. The quotation is:

From his veins came the blood of the Thoroughbred, from his style the beauty of the saddler, his endurance gave bottom to the trotter. Big little fellow with the heart of a lion, second to some of his children but third to none, may he live on through the ages as the symbol of all that we love in the horse.”

Some Last Words, Chapter VI of The Arab Horse by Spencer Borden(1906)

Articles of History:

Excerpted from: THE ARAB HORSE, CHAPTER VI – SOME LAST WORDS by Spencer Borden, New York, 1906 from The Khamsat Volume Seven Number Four Oct/Dec 1990


            No person who reads the books from which much of the information conveyed in these pages has been obtained can fail to be impressed with the idea that the blood of Keheilet Ajuz is a preponderating influence in the best Arab horses. The animals possessed of this blood are not a separate breed among Arabs–all pure Arabs are of one breed. but, as we know of the old Morgans in America, there were separate families, for example, Woodburys, Giffords, Bulrushes, and all were Morgans, so in Arab horses there is a choice; and of them all the descendants of Keheilet Ajuz are the first. Upton says in “Gleanings From the Desert” (p. 320):

                “It appears to me that although there are numerous offshoots from the Keheilet Ajuz, each with a specific name, there is still a main line or strain of descent carried on of Keheilet Ajuz is sufficient to mark any such horse or mare.”

            He also explodes the tradition that mares are not to be had of the Arabs, and makes evident the fact that if a man knows what he wants, and has the money to pay the price; he can get it, or could at the time of his visits (p.p. 365-6).

                “Before leaving this portions of-the subject, it is convenient to allude to an assertion which has been made, and so oft repeated that it has been accepted as an established fact–that it is impossible to obtain an Arabian mare; that the Arabs will not part with a mare; that they will sell horses, but nothing will tempt them to part with a mare. The least informed on the subject of Arabians will tell you this as glibly and with as much assurance as if he had been brought up in the desert. One certainly announced that there was a law forbidding the export of an Arabian mare; Now, I can assure my readers that it is not by any means impossible to obtain a genuine Arab mare. We visited the most exclusive of all Badaween tribes and never heard of such a law. If any law did exist, it would be against selling, not exporting; but we never heard of such a thing in the desert. I can assure my readers that among the genuine Badaween of the Arabian desert we found no prejudice against parting with or selling a mare. Difficulty there certainly is to induce such people as the Anazah to sell either horses or mares, for they do not traffic in horses; but if there be any difference, you might get a good mare with less trouble than a good horse.

                “I have the best of possible authority for refuting the statement that mares are not to be got, for mares were not infrequently offered to us, and among the Anazah (not the wandering people of Erack) we obtained both mares and horses, and the former without more difficulty than the latter.”

            The idea has also been given currency that Manakhi Hedruj was a strain so rare as to be seldom seen in these days, was no longer to be had even for large sums of money, and that they are always chestnuts, of a sizes o much above the other Arab families that these others are merely “pony Arabs.” Upton says of them (Gleanings p. 321):

                “The Manakhi appeared to us a favorite strain, for both horses and mares of this family are to be found in most tribes of the Badaween; and we thought, with the exception of Keheilet Ajuz, there were more horses and mares among the Anazah, certainly among the Sabaah, of the Manakhi family than any other.”

            The Blunts, four years after Upton, had no difficulty in securing several animals of the Manakhi family, which they brought with them to the Crabbet Arabian Stud. Of their colour and size Upton remarks (Gleanings p. 321):

                “There was a nice clean-made, lengthy, useful, and racing-like dark grey three year old filly of the Manakhi Hedruj family which belonged to Shaykh Jedaan ibn Mahaid. There were four mares of Suleiman ibn Mirshid picketed in front of his tent, the best of which he considered to be the bluish-grey (Azzrak) mare, four or five years old. She was also of the Manakhi Hedruj family, and stood fourteen hands, three inches high.”

            Finally, the question seems pertinent — Why, if Arab horses are so valuable, their value so well known, and they can be procured, have they not become more widely distributed?

            Various answers, all good, may be given to this question. In the first place the average horseman has come to believe their qualities and reputation to be figments of the imagination, like the Arabian nights tales, and having similar origin. He has never seen one of these wonderful horses, and none of his friends have seen one. Therefore, the horse as he is represented does not exist. Again, even if he becomes convinced there is such a horse he does not know where to look for him, does not feel certain he can secure the genuine article if he parts with his good money to obtain one, and if he does find what he becomes convinced is what he wants the price is sure to be a stiff one. The fact is the whole business involves the question of supply and demand, which is the key to all economic calculations.

            From this time forward it will pay less and less to breed anything but the best horses, and those which will yield the safest return will be such as will be best adapted for use under the saddle, either for pleasure or as cavalry mounts. In either of those forms of utility no horse that ever lived can compare with one of Arab blood, and the supply of animals of that kind is extremely limited. The people possessing them, whether the Bedouins or those who have bought from them, have never had an over supply.

            A reason for this is perhaps to be found in one statement of conditions for which Mr. Wilfrid Blunt is authority namely: that the pure Arab is not a prolific breeding animal. He thinks one cause for this may be his intense inbreeding. Inbreeding is the only way to secure fixity of type in any form of animal life; but the penalty carried with it is limitation of the reproductive tendency. Mr. Blunt informed one inquirer that if fifteen mares out of twenty-five produced offspring each year at Crabbet Park, he felt satisfied.

            The tendency of this condition of affairs is to make the supply of pure Arabs always short, and the price high. A careful study of the lists presented to the readers of this book, however, will show that certain mares have been consistent and uniform producers of numerous and valuable offspring.

Type in the Arab

by Ben Hur (Western Horseman March 1951)

IS THE ARABIAN horse a gift of nature, a natural , primary type like the wild beast of the fields and forests? Or is it a modified and developed type, created under man’s influence?

Type is that distinctive, familiar shape which immediately identifies a horse and classifies it with its breed. Type makes the breed. The type of your favorite breed is as familiar to you as the type-faces and typography of your favorite newspaper and magazine which you can identify at sight at a distance long before you are near enough to read the print.

What is Arabian type and what is its origin? You know it when you see it, but there are so many variations in the type. What is the explanation? Which is the most desirable?

Most Arabians fall within two type classifications:

1) the larger, longer, coarser and more masculine type;

2) the smaller, shorter, finer formed, “strength and beauty” type.

The larger, coarser type was used mainly as foundation for our present day light breeds. The smaller, finer type has been largely the foundation of the Arabians as a breed, bred in their purity during the past century in Egypt, Poland, England and later in the United States. This type, known as the elite in Egypt, as the classic in America, when highly bred, it that of a horse of transcendent beauty. It is more than that. It is the beauty of an ancient Grecian statue come to life. It is not sheer beauty alone, at one extreme, or sheer brute strength at the other. The ideal represents a blending of animated strength and beauty, a degree of perfection not achieved in any other domestic animal.

Gulastra No. 521, Seglawi strain; dam, Gulnare; sire, *Astraled by Mesaoud, great grandson of Zobeyni. Gulastra has proven a highly important sire.

The ideal Arabian type is recognizable at sight to the experienced horseman and novice alike. It falls short of the ideal if it reminds one of another horse or breed. It falls short of the ideal if it is so plain and uncertain of type as to require a sign: “This is an Arabian horse.” It falls short of the ideal if it is so coarse and masculine as to remind one of a small Percheron, at one extreme, or so highly animated and elf-like as to remind one of a gazelle at the other extreme. The ideal type stands out alone. You know it immediately when you see it.

Because of its beauty and perfection, the most common error is the assumption that Arabian type is a natural gift of nature, a type that is as fixed as that of the bison, squirrels or bob cats. With that erroneous assumption as a premise, the new admirer of the Arabian dreams of the day he could visit the desert, make friends and barter for a few Arabian horses. From then on, with his horses safely back home, all that would be necessary, with a little feed, time and care, would be the multiplication and addition of the offspring. It would be as simple as starting with a pair of guinea pigs or white rabbits. Like would beget like and soon there would be many more of these wonderful Arabians. The idea still persists today, in spite of the history of the development of the breed and evidence all about of the bloodlines and skill required to produce the desired type.

On scores of occasions, elaborate and adequately equipped trips have been made to the desert (in some instances years and fortunes have been spent) in an attempt to bring back several of the “dream horses.” The results have been disheartening at best. The horses dreamed about could not be found, or an occasional one found was not for sale. After these many attempts, it is generally conceded that Abbas Pasha I of Egypt all but stripped the desert of the best horses a century ago and that the overwhelming majority of Arabians of the much preferred type desired today are of these bloodlines combined with and developed by the Blunts and later their daughter, Lady Wentworth.

There are three familiar proofs we may cite that Arabian type is not a gift of nature, a natural, primary fixed type:

1) the horses of Cortez and De Soto, of Spanish origin, were of the same root stock as the early Arabians. Left to run wild on the plains of the southwest, they grew smaller, lost most of the early type and good dispositions and became, in fact, untractable, rough ponies.

2) The Thoroughbred in England, on the other hand, under proper care, skill and environment, was moulded and developed from about the same root stock, about the same time as the reversion in type was making the wild mustang in America. Taking advantage of the variations in type found from time to time, and with selection and care, a new type, the thoroughbred, was created.

3) As further proof that the Arabian horse, as found in the desert, was moulded and pliable, a highly developed creature from the remote early type, we may cite that there was no universal, fixed type.

Travelers visiting the desert, from earliest recorded accounts, found variations in the distinctive, over-all type. They found some six or more main strains among as many main Bedouin tribes, and numerous sub-strains of each main strain, each further specialized to the liking of the families among the tribes breeding them. The five main strains were the Kehilan, Seglawi, Abeyan, Hamdani and Hadban, all more or less closely related, and many maintained that from the Kehilan the others were offshoots.

Azkar No. 1109, Kehilan (Seglawi) strain; sire, Rahas by Gulastra; dam, imported *Aziza, Egypt, out of Negma, finest recent representative of the Jellibiet Feysul mare line. (Today this line has been shown through mtDNA analysis to be Seglawi-Jedran)

These five strains were of the finer, elite or classic type. The sixth strain, the larger, coarser, was the Maneghi, seldom, if ever, crossed with the other strains. Breeding and identifying type followed the mare through these strain and sub-strain names. Stallions from one strain of the first five were often used on the other closely related strains, but his strain name was dropped in his offspring, which carried the strain of its dam. Pedigrees in the modern sense were unknown among the Bedouins.

Of the many horses imported from the desert to Egypt, England, Poland and the United States, early pedigrees and stud books reveal that many desert-bred horses had sires and dams of different closely related strains. The practice of continuing the identifying strain names in present day stud books, to give an idea of type origin, has continued in England, Poland and Egypt. In many instances in the United States, after 30 years of indiscriminate inter-mixing of strains from so many different sources, without regard to type or family origin, the resulting offspring was “neither fish nor fowl,” had so many different strains in the pedigree as to belie claim to any one of them in particular. So strain names were dropped in our stud books. There are, however, in this country important bloodlines that have been continued along the same early system of family line breeding and have a concentration of the blood of the type foundation sires and dams.

A study of importations of Arabians to this country for the past 50 years reveals many interesting facts relating to present-day type trends and influences. In no other country has thee been so much enthusiasm for imported Arabians. More than 200 have been accepted for registry from the desert, Lebanon, Egypt, India, Turkey, Spain, France, Germany, Russia, Poland, South America and England. Many of these have the same type root origin and are not as unrelated at the mere name of sire an dam would indicate. Some imported from Egypt credit sire and dam as “desert bred,” when in fact they are of Abbas Pasha and Blunt origin in Egypt with highly significant pedigrees. Numerous importations from various isolated sources from which high hope was held when the importation was made have left issue of little or no value. It is astonishing to note the toll that time has taken of some lines and how others more dominant have been preferred and have gone on and on.

The Maneghi strain or courser type Arabian was preferred for several centuries by those who thought of the Arabian as the best original seed-stock with which to improve and make new breeds. This strain was the foundation for the Thoroughbred and accounts for his type today.

The “strength and beauty” or elite type, later called the classic type, was first highly esteemed and collected from the desert with great fervor by Abbas Pasha I of Egypt (1803 – 1858), who used his knowledge of the desert and horses ,his immense fortune and his friendship with the Bedouins to make his vast collection of horses. He had as many as 600 head at one time. It is doubtful if the Bedouins ever again had the horses they had before he carried on, over a period of years, his systematic combing of the desert for the finest classic type Arabians, regardless of price, which he boasted he collected for their perfection of beauty like others in Europe and elsewhere collected priceless paintings.

Three of the Arabians of Abbas Pasha are among the most highly esteemed foundation of present day bloodlines, here and abroad. Zobeyni (see illustration), a grey Seglawi stallion, bred in the desert, used by him with great success, is founder of the male line that has been the most successful in England and the United States.

*Rifala No. 815, Kehilan strain, imported from England; sire, Skowronek, grandson of Mahruss, Zobeyni line. Rifala is of the Rodania female line, and dam of *Raffles by Skowronek.

Aarah No. 1184, Kehilan, and foal Aarafa. She is representative of the female lines of Ghazieh, Rodania and Jellibiet Feysul.

The line has been of preponderant importance in contributing to other lines in other countries, notably Egypt and Poland. Zobeyni’s most celebrated son was Wazir, which has by some been considered the best stallion secured in Egypt by Wilfred and Lady Ann Blunt. Wazir was sire of many important mares for the Blunts at their Crabbet Stud; also the stallion Shahwan, famed for his beauty and perfection, imported to this country in 1895 by J.P.Ramsdell. Thus in this country was obtained some of the early Zobeyni blood. Zobeyni was also sire of Mahruss, sire of Ibn Mahruss No. 22. Mahruss was sire of Heijer, grandsire of Skowronek (Poland)(1), whose blood has been the largest contributing factor to modern classic type in England and the United States. Zobeyni was great grandsire of Jamil El Achkar, highly important foundation sire in Egypt; also Mesaoud, taken to England by the Blunts and the most successful sire at Crabbet Stud before the coming of Skowronek. Thus it will be seen that the United States shares richly in the early blood sources of the most important progenitor of Arabians in the modern world.

Abbas Pasha brought from the desert two mares that are tap root dams of the most important female lines. They are Jellibiet Feysul, a Kehilan, for which a fortune was paid, and Ghazieh, a Seglawi, as important possibly as the former. She is great granddam of Bint Helwa, dam of Ghazala, brought to the country by Spencer Borden. Through her daughters, Guemura and Gulnare, many Arabians share in this line.

The Bunts devoted their resources and many years of their lives bringing Arabians from the desert to England and Egypt and to world acclaim and favor. Through their daughter, the bloodlines have been further extended. Of all the many important sires they have owned, Mesaoud, great grandson of Zobeyni, bred in Egypt, and Skowronek(1), bred in Poland, both of the Zobeyni line, have contributed more than any others to the high esteem in which the classic type Arabian is held the world over at the present time.

The mares Rodania and Dajania, both Kehilan, obtained in the desert by the Blunts, have proven tap root foundation mares comparable to Ghazieh and Jellibiet Feysul. Their blood, too, is found generously in many pedigrees in this country.

Nejdme No. 1, of Chicago World’s Fair 1893 fame, has established an important female line here not found in other countries.

Of the Arabians imported by Homer Davenport from the desert, one stallion and two mares have contributed new lines that are increasing in popularity. Deyr, an Abeyan, bred in the desert, is founder of the male line. Sire of Hanad, his most illustrious son, and Tabab, and grandsire of Antez and Aabab (see illustration) and others of note, the line is noted for its vitality, personality and robust type. It blends well with and compliments the Zobeyni line. The most important of the Davenport mares were Wadduda (the war mare) and Urfah, both of the Seglawi strain. They have established female lines not found in other countries.

It will be seen that the type preference for the classic type had its beginning with the selections made by Abbas Pasha early in the 19th century, which were later augmented and supported by the desert selections of the Blunts and their development of the type and breed at their Sheik Obeyd Stud in Egypt and Crabbet Stud in England. The spark that kindled the enthusiasm and preference for this same type was the occasion of the (1893) World’s Fair. Numerous small, highly significant importations of the Abbas Pasha and Blunt bloodlines were made from England in the succeeding years. More than 20 years later, Wm. R. Brown made large importations from England of this same type and blood source and added them to his stud of Borden and other importations which he had painstakingly collected and saved for posterity. He did more than any other person to put the Arabian horse on a firm, consistent type breeding foundation by specializing in the production of the classic type and publicizing the type qualifications and standards. Ten years later, through the importations from England by W.K.Kellogg and Roger Selby of considerable numbers of horses of the same important bloodlines, the foundation for this type was broadened and strengthened vastly and to a degree which assured the future of the breed in the U.S. A few years later, Henry Babson and Wm. R. Brown made highly significant importations from Egypt of closely related bloodlines, selected particularly for the type they most esteemed. These important additions gave the breeders in this country the same type sources and foundation blood as those of Egypt, England and Poland.

There are in the United States more living registered Arabians than in England, Egypt and Poland combined as proof of the popularity and acceptance of the breed here, although this number is infinitely small, and no doubt always will be, compared to the total horse population of the country. There are among the registered Arabians in this country a substantial number bred true to the preferred type and from the bloodlines which are of the same origin and loosely related to the same families abroad. Because of the ravages of war and the difficulties under which horses have been bred in these other countries in recent years, it is now apparent from their stud books that we have here a larger number and wider selection of the type sources which originated in these countries than they now have. It is doubtful, after a study of their latest stud books, that they now have anything that would materially aid in further extending our type base of bloodlines.


In a study of type influences and origin in the Arabian horse we must conclude that:

1) there is no natural, fixed, primary type.

2) There are numerous type variations from the over-all, general type.

3) These variations can be divided ito two main classes.

4) The type generally preferred and held in highest esteem has its origin in one breed foundation desert bred sire of a century ago.

5) Four desert bred mares of the same period and type have had a tremendous influence in sustaining and propagating the type.

6) This type, through these bloodlines, has an inter-family relationship among Arabian horses n the United States, England, Poland and Egypt.

7) This international one type ideal and relationship has been carried on from generation to generation through the skill of breeders that comes from years of study and experience with the breed.

8) The United States has had important additions to this type influence by bloodlines of desert bred horses not directly related to the previous group.

9) The type is produced and sustained by following the same family or strain plan of breeding followed for centuries in the desert, more commonly known as line breeding where pedigree breeding is in practice.

10) A study of all the importations from the desert entering into our present day bloodlines clearly indicates there have been no Arabians from this source equal in influence and importance with the stallion Zobeyni, the mares jellibiet Feysul, Ghazieh, Rodania and Dajania.

((1) Today Ibrahim is accepted as a desert-bred stallion. For more information see:



Potocki, Count Joseph (son of Skowronek’s breeder) “Skowronek’s Pedigree and the Antoniny Stud” The Arabian Horse News, Feb. ’58.




Polish Arabians May Have Been Saved

by Ben Hur (Western Horseman Mar/Apr’44)

Raffles, by champion Skowronek, out of champion Rifala.

Friends and students of Arabian horses will be deeply interested in the report that the castle and estate of Count Potocki in war-harassed Poland have been saved from destruction. A deep American interest in the Arabian horses of Poland arises from the fact that during the past ten years or so the bloodlines of some of the best Polish bred Arabian horses have proven extremely popular in this country. There was a time when very little, if any, contact was had with Arabian breeders of Poland, and little was known of their methods of breeding and the quality of their horses.

It will be recalled that Wilfred S. Blunt and his wife, Lady Anne Blunt, established the Crabbet Arabian Stud about 1880 with horses they imported from the desert and, later, others from Egypt. They became the most extensive breeders of Arabians in the British empire, and Arabians bred there were exported to the far corners of the world. Many importations have been made by breeders of the United States.

Commenting on the later work of Lady Wentworth and her Crabbet Arabian Stud, William R. Brown, former president of the Arabian Horse Club of America, said in his book, The Horse of the Desert (1936): “In recent years, a white stallion, Skowronek, bred at the stud of Count Potocki in Poland, has been introduced in order to freshen the blood.”

Skowronek, a few days after he was brought to the U.S. [sic] from Poland. The famous stallion later turned white.

Through the fact that Lady Wentworth deemed it necessary or expedient to freshen the blood of Crabbet Arabians by the importation of Skowronek from Poland shortly after the first world war, a deep interest in Polish Arabians was created in breeders in America. Arabian horses have been bred intensively in their desert purity in Poland for several hundred years. It has been the practice there of certain breeders to obtain a new desert bred stallion every five or ten years and this rule has been followed for many generations. The sire of Skowronek is Ibrahim, desert bred, and his dam is Jaskolka, on her dam’s side from a long line of Polish bred Arabians.

Skowronek’s blood has been disseminated to two continents. Several of his get were imported to the United States — the first possibly being the grey stallion, Raseyn No. 597, and the grey mare, Rossana No. 598, imported in 1926 by W. K. Kellogg. The grey mare Rifala No. 815, by Skowronek, was imported in 1928 by Roger Selby, followed by a double son, Champion Raffles No. 952, imported by Mr. Selby in 1932.

It is significant that the mare, Rifala, was bred back to her sire, Skowronek, and foaled Raffles while still in England. Raffles then is the in-bred son, the son and grand-son of Skowronek, and three quarters of the blood of his sire rather than the usual one-half.

Rifala and foal. Her blood is potent in passing on extremely desirable qualities to her offspring.

Possibly for this reason the blood of Raffles has been found unusually potent in passing on the extremely desirable qualities, from the Arabian breeders’ point of view, to the offspring. From these two sons and two daughters of Skowronek in the United States, in the relatively short period of about ten years, the get and bloodlines have gone to a surprisingly large number of Arabian breeders from coast to coast.

After the importations of the two sons and daughters of Skowronek from England to the United States, the interest in Arabian horses from Poland grew. J. M. Dickinson imported seven Arabians direct from Poland to the United States in 1937, the most prized mare possibly being Przepiorka No. 1309, her dam being Jaskolka II (no doubt a daughter of Jaskolka). In 1938 Mr. Dickinson imported eight more Arabians from Poland, while Henry Babson made a visit to Poland and personally selected five which he imported into the United States. Mr. Dickinson then imported still another in 1939 and Mr. Babson two more.

Dickinson had the honor and distinction of exporting in the meantime to Poland the American bred Arabian, Antez No. 448, a stallion representing some of the best blood lines of the Homer Davenport (1906) importation from the desert to this country. Later, Antez had the distinction of being imported back to the United States from Poland after being used successfully as a stud there.

These importations from Poland were from a number of different estates and breeders as well as the Polish State Stud. With the invasion of Poland by Germany early in World War II, most of these estates and studs were liquidated, the horses confiscated, some being taken to Germany and added to breeding establishments there. So it has been with deep sorrow that many breeders of Arabians in America have followed the ebb and flow of the war across Poland, realizing that the breeding of several hundred years had been wiped out.

Recently, however, more welcome news has come from Polish Vice Consul Jozef Staniewicz in Chicago who reports that despite the terrific destruction in Poland there is one estate which stands untouched, Lancut, the historic castle of the Potockis, fifty miles from Cracow. The ancient house, the only one in Europe remaining intact as it was in the Middle Ages, stands in the center of 150,000 acres of fields and forests.

At the time of the German invasion in 1939, members of the German general staff lost no time in getting to Lancut and making themselves comfortable under Count Potocki’s roof. German Minister of Foreign Affairs Joachim von Ribbentrop and Reichs-marshal Herman Goering have engaged in boar hunting on the estate. The upshot of it was the famous castle and its historic properties and collections remained intact under the German high command. Other castles and country houses, universities and churches were sacked, but Lancut was saved.

This information from the Polish vice consul gives added assurance that the Arabian horses owned by Count Potocki were also saved and can be used as a nucleus for re-establishing the studs for which Poland has long been famous.

See also:

Skowronek — Magic Progenitor


Our Cover

    ANKAR No 3063 — Registered Arabian Stallion The Horse Lover Aug/Sept ’49

Here you are privileged to see unmistakable Arabian character of the finest type.

This young stallion has a deep body of desirable width — The shoulders, chest, barrel and hind quarters are of special merit.

Ankar is well ribbed up, compact and his tail carried in an arch. His head is of unforgettable beauty and with it all his delicate thorn like ears, large eyes and magnificent expression is thrilling to behold. Ankar stands 14.2 hands — a copper chestnut and his weight 1050 lbs. Age 5 years.

In seeing Ankar and carefully going over him in the course of a prolonged visit a horseman might summarize his qualities as follows:

  • (a) Very symmetrical and classically beautiful.
  • (b) His head is like a masterpiece of fine carving.
  • (c) Full bodied throughout, good back and loins and well developed hind quarters are much in evidence.
  • (d) His legs well muscled, ample bone below the knee and hock — good feet — large clean joints. Disposition and manners good.

Antez, the sire of Ankar, proved his worth as a racer, driving horse, show horse in hand and under saddle, as well a being a champion sire. There can be no question that he also had great endurance. In a private test conducted by General Dickinson in 1932, Antez, carrying a moderate weight of 225 pounds was ridden steadily twelve hours a day for five days over fields, country roads, and hillside trails. According to General Dickinson, at the end of the test Antez was in perfect condition and apparently ready and willing to go the distance again immediately.

Rehasafa, the dam of Ankar, was sired by Rehal who was bred by W.R.Brown and later owned by W.R.Hearst. The dam Ferdasafa is by the twice champion at the Los Angeles National Horse Show, Ferdin. The granddam, Rasafa, was bred by the Crabbet Park Stud in England. Her dam, Rasima, was closely related to the noted Abu Zeyd. This mare traces in all lines to the Crabbet Park Stud and represents some of the best of their blood.

The Mekeel breeding program started in 1939, and for the past ten years they have improved their broodmare band with the purchase of outstanding mares whenever possible. They now have thirty-one Arabians headed by their stallion Ankar. They have recently purchased a young stallion from Mr. Henry Babson of Chicago. This stallion is by Fadl and out of Bint Bint Sabbah. They have great hopes for him.

Ankar has only been shown twice. The first time at the Westminster Horse Show where he won first in the mature stallion class, and the second time at the Los Angeles Country Spring Fair where he also won the mature stallion class as well as being made champion stallion.

His sire was Antez whose blood is probably as highly regarded today by some Arabian breeders as any horse of our generation. It is a rare blending — of blood lines indeed to be able to get so many desirable points to culminate in one individual.

Lack of space prohibits a detailed description of each of his four notable grandparents. One of them, however, may shed some light as to why beauty and strength may be combined to such a high degree.

GRANDSIRE – HARARA — an Abeyan Sherrak, for years a leading sire in Porto Rico and until his death in 1933 owned by the Central Aguirre Sugar Company. Harara’s dam was *Haffia, an Abeyah Sherrakieh by a Hamdani Simri stallion that was held in such high esteem by the Anazeh tribe in Arabia that they refused to set a price on him for the Italian Government. Her dam, *Abeyah, was considered by Hashem Bey, the Sheykh of all the Anazeh, to have the most rarely beautiful head in the desert. She was distinguished for speed, and, though small, was a marvel of stamina and weight-carrying ability. She was reported to have carried 300 pounds a distance of 35 miles over rough ground in four hours with the sun registering 135. *Haffia was bred by the Shammar tribe in the desert and imported by Homer Davenport to America in 1905.

Ankar is owned by Mr. and Mrs. Leland E. Mekeel, 815 West Washington Blve., Whittier, California.