Rancho San Ignacio: A Look Back
Copyright R.J.CADRANELL from Arabian Visions May-June 1997 Used by permission of RJ Cadranell
In reviewing Richard Pritzlaff’s life with Arabian horses and reading what he has written about them, several themes come out again and again. This simplifies things for a writer: include most of them and the story of the Arabians at Rancho San Ignacio will have been told.
Richard Pritzlaff knew horses all his life. Born in May of 1902 and raised in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, he grew up when horses were still a daily sight for most Americans. At about age 12 he studied riding under a German instructor who schooled him in a balanced seat; for the next 70 years this philosophy influenced his riding. Richard graduated from the University of Wisconsin in 1924, and later lived in Hawaii and California, enjoying riding whenever he could.
Richard made his first trip to New Mexico in 1922. He lived alone in a cabin high in the mountains, riding most days with the cowboys to check cattle. He enjoyed the country and the wildlife. Those halcyon days must have made a deep impression on him, for early in 1935 he jumped at the chance to return to New Mexico. A friend had a ranch for sale, elevation 7,600 feet, near Sapello. He was showing it to some prospective buyers from Texas, so Richard went along for the ride. After a few days there, Richard decided to buy it himself. He named it Rancho San Ignacio, after a village nearby.
The original purchase was about 2,000 acres. Later, 19 smaller tracts were acquired, bringing the total holding to four square miles. The ranch was left pristine and rustic as much as possible. The house, barns, and sheds were built of adobe and native lumber. Hermit’s Peak made a dramatic background for many views across the ranch. The ranch remained a refuge from the noise and crowds of modern civilized life. If a man’s house is his castle, then Rancho San Ignacio was Richard Pritzlaff’s kingdom.
In 1947 Richard’s paint gelding collided with a steer. He had to be carried back to the house, and decided it was time for a more agile mount. He had seen Arabians before, and through friends in Santa Fe had been introduced to writer and traveler Carl Raswan, then living on a ranch in Cedar Crest, New Mexico. Richard bought Muntez (Sartez x Munia) from Raswan, and asked his advice about finding a filly. *RASHAD IBN NAZEER TIBOR THE GENERAL 1959 (Rabanna) SIR WHITE MOON 1963 (*Bint Moniet el Nefous) KUMONIET RSI 1974 (Kualoha) GRETE 1960 (*Bint El Bataa) SHIKO IBN SHEIKH 1961 (*Bint El Bataa) UMI 1965 (*Bint Dahma) NASZUMI RSI 1969 (Naszra) KUUUMI RSI 1970 (Kualoha) NASZEERA 1971 (Naszra) TOMONIET RSI 1972 (Monieta RSI) RASMON NEFOUS RSI 1976 (Tatutwo RSI) ALMONIET RSI 1975 (Monieta RSI) SONIETASSOLAR RSI 1978 (Sonieta) ALSONIA RSI 1979 (Sonieta) GHAMONARSI 1981 (Kumoniet RSI) TATUCENTA RSI 1983 (Tatu) MONIET HARMONY 1985 (Golondrina RSI) GOLMONIET RSI 1986 (Golondrina RSI) ALPERFO RSI 1988 (Perfecta RSI) NASZRA 1962 (Rabanna) HANNELE 1962 (*Bint El Bataa) BINT EL SARIE 1962(*Bint Dahma) RSI SARA 1964 (*Bint Dahma) RSI RARA DELSOL 1964 ( *Bint Moniet el Nefous) ALCIBIADES 1965 (*Bint Moniet el Nefous) ALFISA RSI 1970 (*Bint Nefisa) KUVAL 1971 (Kualoha) GHAZIET RSI 1977 (Tatu) TATUS TRIUMPH RSI 1981 (Tatutwo RSI) ROBIN RSI 1982 (Naszumi RSI) MONICENT RSI 1983 (Monieta RSI) SARACENTA RSI 1983 (Sara Moniel) SARACENCE RSI 1984 (Sara Moniel) MNAHI RSI 1972 (Kualoha) PINNACLE RSI 1982 (Naszare RSI) NASZARE RSI 1972 (Naszra) BLUE BOY 1973 (Tatu) BLUEWHITE RSI 1987 (Naszare RSI) EXCEED RSI 1987 (Sara Moniel) BLUSARA RSI 1988 (Sara Moniel) SOJA RSI 1966 (*Bint Dahma) MONIETA RSI 1967 (*Bint Moniet el Nefous) ORIN RSI 1967 (Naszra) ORFISA RSI 1972 (*Bint Nefisa) MONIETOR-RSI 1968 (*Bint Moniet el Nefous) NASZRIETA 1973 (Naszra) BALMONIET RSI 1974 (*Bint Nefisa) DAHMONIET RSI 1974 (*Bint Dahma) DINARA RSI 1975 (Kualoha) PERFECTA RSI 1978 (Alfisa RSI) KUALASHA RSI 1979 (Kualoha) TATUTWO RSI 1968 (Tatu) SONIETA 1973 (*Bint Moniet el Nefous) DYMONIET RSI 1975 (*Bint Moniet el Nefous) DYSZARA RSI 1979 (Naszare RSI) DYTATU RSI 1982 (Tatutwo RSI) MONIET UNITY 1985 (Naszare RSI) RAJ RSI 1975 (Alfisa RSI) MONIETSMELODY RSI 1980 (Monieta RSI) RAJEER RSI 1982 (Monieta RSI) GOLONDRINA RSI 1977 (Alfisa RSI)
*BINT NEFISA ALFISA RSI 1970 (Alcibiades) RAJ RSI 1975 (*Rashad ibn Nazeer)
GOLONDRINA RSI 1977 (*Rashad Ibn Nazeer) MONIET HARMONY 1985 (Almoniet RSI) GOLMONIET RSI 1986 (Almoniet RSI) PERFECTA RSI 1978 (Monietor-RSI) ALPERFO RSI 1988 (Almoniet RSI)
ORFISA RSI 1972 (Orin RSI) BALMONIET RSI 1974 (Monietor-RSI)
RABANNA KUALOHA 1955 (Ghadaf) KUUUMI RSI 1970 (Umi) KUALICE RSI 1976 (Ansata El Salim) KUMONIET RSI 1974 (Sir White Moon) GHAMONARSI 1981 (Almoniet RSI) KUVAL 1971 (Alcibiades) MNAHI RSI 1972 (Alcibiades)
DINARA RSI 1975 (Monietor-RSI) KUALASHA RSI 1979 (Monietor-RSI) JOHN DOYLE 1957 (Ghadaf) TIBOR THE GENERAL 1959 (*Rashad Ibn Nazeer)
NASZRA 1962 (*Rashad Ibn Nazeer) ORIN RSI 1967 (*Rashad Ibn Nazeer)
NASZUMI RSI 1969 (Umi) ROBIN RSI 1982 (Kuval) NASZEERA 1971 (Umi) SARA MONIEL 1977 (*Fakher el Din) SARACENTA RSI 1983 (Kuval) SARACENCE RSI 1984 (Kuval) EXCEED RSI 1987 (Blue Boy)
BLUSARA RSI 1988 (Blue Boy) NASZARE RSI 1972 (Alcibiades) DYSZARA RSI 1979 (Dymoniet RSI) PINNACLE RSI 1982 (Mnahi RSI) MONIET UNITY 1985 (Dymoniet RSI) BLUEWHITE RSI 1987 (Blue Boy) NASZRIETA 1973 (Monietor-RSI)
*BINT MONIET EL NEFOUS TATU 1962 (John Doyle) TATUTWO RSI 1968 (*Rashad Ibn Nazeer) RASMON NEFOUS RSI 1976 (Tomoniet RSI)
TATUS TRIUMPH RSI 1981 (Kuval) DYTATU RSI 1982 (Dymoniet RSI) BLUE BOY 1973 (Alcibiades) GHAZIET RSI 1977 (Kuval)
TATUCENTA RSI 1983 (Almoniet RSI) SIR WHITE MOON 1963 (Tibor the General)
RSI RARA DELSOL 1964 (*Rashad Ibn Nazeer) ALCIBIADES 1965 (*Rashad Ibn Nazeer)
MONIETA RSI 1967 (*Rashad Ibn Nazeer) TOMONIET RSI 1972 (Umi) ALMONIET RSI 1975 (Umi)
MONIETSMELODY RSI 1980 (Raj RSI) RAJEER RSI 1982 (Raj RSI) MONICENT RSI 1983 (Kuval) MONIETOR-RSI 1968 (*Rashad Ibn Nazeer)
SONIETA 1973 (*Rashad Ibn Nazeer) SONIETASSOLAR RSI 1978 (Almoniet RSI)
ALSONIA RSI 1979 (Almoniet RSI) DYMONIET RSI 1975 (*Rashad Ibn Nazeer)
*BINT DAHMA BINT EL SARIE 1962 ( *Rashad Ibn Nazeer) RSI SARA 1964 (*Rashad Ibn Nazeer) DAHSARA RSI 1976 (Ansata El Salim) UMI 1965 (Shiko Ibn Sheikh)
SOJA RSI 1966 (*Rashad Ibn Nazeer) CIBOLA RSI 1970 (Ansata El Salim)
DAHMONIET RSI 1974 (Monietor-RSI)
*BINT EL BATAA GRETE 1960 (*Rashad Ibn Nazeer) CHEV-RSI 1968 (John Doyle) SHIKO IBN SHEIKH 1961 (*Rashad Ibn Nazeer)
HANNELE 1962 (*Rashad Ibn Nazeer) NASZALA 1968 (Bel Gordas) SABATAA RSI 1973 (Ansata El Salim) Raswan recommended that Richard buy Rabanna, bred by Delma Gallaher in California. The Gallahers had purchased her sire, Rasik (*Nasik x *Rasima), from the Kellogg Ranch. Rabanna’s dam was Banna (*Nasr x Baribeh), bred by J.M. Dickinson. Richard bought Rabanna at age six months in 1947, without even having seen a photograph of her.
In the early 1950s, Carl Raswan lived at Rancho San Ignacio. This was before the breeding program got started, but he visited later and continued to correspond. Over the years Richard also served as a patron to Raswan, helping to make it possible for him to complete and publish The Arab and His Horse and later the Raswan Index.
When it came time to breed Rabanna, Richard turned again to Raswan for advice. Raswan was in regular correspondence with Dr. Joseph L. Doyle of Sigourney, Iowa, concerning the establishment of a breeding program which would preserve a high pedigree relationship to the horses bred in the late nineteenth century by Ali Pasha Sherif of Egypt. As it unfolded, the Pritzlaff program would also seek to maintain this high pedigree relationship.
Raswan wrote to Dr. Doyle (letter from Rancho San Ignacio dated “Friday”):
In another letter to Dr. Doyle from Rancho San Ignacio, dated September 28, 1953, Raswan wrote:
Richard bought a son of Sartez and Munia…. I also helped him to get …”RABBANA”…and I have just made out her pedigree 8 and 9 generations complete to the Abbas Pasha – Ali Pasha Sharif and Desert origins.
I wanted her myself…but Richard needed a start and he is looking for a match to her (she is six years old now and Richard did not breed her yet, waiting that I show up and help him find a stallion)….If Richard breeds this rare Saqlawiyah mare to a perfectly matched stallion you might trade later some horses with him. …
Rabanna is small (ideal), fine boned, a 3 circle horse, well balanced, a lovely head (not extreme but all the details) with large eyes set low, wonderful muzzle parts (nostrils etc).
Dr. Doyle was standing a 25-year-old stallion named Ghadaf (Ribal x Gulnare), bred by W.R. Brown of the Maynesboro Stud. On Raswan’s insistence, Rabanna was bred to Ghadaf in 1954, producing in September of 1955 the first Pritzlaff foal, a grey filly named Kualoha.
Rabanna was bred back to Ghadaf for foals born in 1956 and 1957. In 1957 both Ghadaf and Dr. Doyle died; Rabanna’s 1957 colt was named John Doyle. But by that time, Richard was already seeking elsewhere to round out the foundation of his herd.
Raswan had suggested that Richard look to Egypt. Since 1949 the government breeding program at El Zahraa near Cairo had been under the direction of General Tibor von Pettko-Szandtner. In earlier days he had headed the Hungarian state stud of Babolna, where he made good use of the desert bred Kuhaylan Zaid, a stallion Carl Raswan had helped procure. So in 1956, after visiting Germany and Austria, Richard flew to Cairo. Each day he went out to the farm and looked over the horses of the Egyptian Agricultural Organization. Finally he selected a colt and filly, but as there were no ships headed to the U.S., he had to give up and return home without the horses, hoping one day to try again.
In April of 1958 he did return. This time, with General von Pettko-Szandtner’s help, Richard chose five horses for export. When a ship became available, Richard and the horses left the farm and headed to Alexandria. With papers, feed, bedding, and horse boxes finally arranged, the horses were loaded on board and the voyage to America began. Richard described wrapping himself in his coat and sleeping on the forward hatch near the horses the night the ship set out on the Mediterranean. After 13 days at sea, they arrived in Wilmington, North Carolina.
From the beginning, Richard realized what he had in this importation. He wrote repeatedly in his farm advertising that the “General considered Nazeer the finest stallion in Egypt, and Moniet el Nefous was his favorite mare.” The horses in the importation were:
*Rashad Ibn Nazeer (Nazeer x Yashmak, by Sheikh el Arab), three-year-old bay colt. Richard commented on *Rashad’s action and elegance, and stated he stood 15.2 and a half. He described him: “Tall, sloping shoulder, high withers, short back, long neck and reliable disposition — wonderful for cross country riding.”** He lived until 1976.
*Bint El Bataa (Nazeer x El Bataa, by Sheikh el Arzab), three-year-old chestnut filly.
*Bint Moniet el Nefous (Nazeer x Moniet el Nefous, by Shahloul), yearling chestnut filly. Of the imported mares, she had the greatest influence on the herd, through both sons and daughters.
*Bint Nefisa (El Sareei x Nefisa, by Balance), yearling bay filly.
This was the first Nazeer and Moniet el Nefous blood to reach the United States, and also the largest importation from Egypt since the Babson and Brown horses had arrived in 1932. This first group of “new Egyptians” opened the floodgates for the later new Egyptian importations which followed.
The story of Rancho San Ignacio cannot be told without mention of Col. Hans Handler. While skiing in Austria in the 1950s, Richard met Col. Handler and became friends. Col. Handler was made head of the Spanish Riding School in Vienna, and Richard was able to observe the training of the horses there. In later years Col. Handler was a guest at Rancho San Ignacio and schooled a few of Richard’s stallions.
THE BREEDING PROGRAM AND BLOODLINES ADDED
The main sire line used in developing the herd was *Rashad’s. *Rashad himself was not doing all the work, however; the program is unusual for the large number of sons and grandsons of its foundation sire used for breeding. Readers are referred to the accompanying chart of the *Rashad male line, which shows the *Rashad line horses which Richard Pritzlaff used for breeding. Stallions are in bold face. Each step to the right represents one generation. Other charts arrange the breeding stock by female line.
Ghadaf’s son John Doyle made an early and permanent contribution to the herd through his grey daughter Tatu. Later his daughter Chev-RSI was also added to the mare band.
The stud books show few outside lines added following the 1958 importation. Richard introduced the blood of only four stallions.
The 1960 Babson stallion Faarad (Faaris x Fadba), bred by Jay and Lorane Musser, got his first foal for Richard in 1965. Faarad sired nine Rancho San Ignacio foals over the next six years, but Richard himself does not seem to have used any of them for breeding. Nonetheless as late as 1987 he still spoke of the Faarad blood as a component of the Pritzlaff Arabian.
In 1968 *Bint El Bataa produced Naszala, a filly by the Ott-owned stallion Bel Gordas (Sirecho x Habba). One of Richard’s stated aims with this breeding was to add another *Nasr line to his herd. Naszala produced one filly by Ansata El Salim and one by Alcibiades. Starting in the late 1960s, Richard entered into a reciprocal arrangement with Norton and Millie Grow of Rafter G Arabians in Prosser, Washington. The Grows had the young stallion Ansata El Salim (*Ansata Ibn Halima x Maarqada). A number of Richard’s mares, as well as Alcibiades, were sent up to Washington. Pritzlaff-owned mares produced a total of 25 Ansata El Salim foals through 1982. Ansata El Salim’s son Cibola RSI (x Soja RSI) returned to stand in Sapello, and three Ansata El Salim daughters produced Pritzlaff-bred foals, but this blood was never widespread in the herd.
The final addition was a 1977 chestnut mare named Sara Moniel, bred by Robert and Sara Loken. Sara Moniel was out of the Pritzlaff mare Naszeera (Umi x Naszra) and by *Fakher el Din, the full brother to *Bint Moniet el Nefous. Sara Moniel was added to the herd to bring in the *Fakher el Din line and cross it with *Bint Moniet’s.
A 1987 VISIT TO RANCHO SAN IGNACIO
As I arrived at the ranch house and slowed down I saw an unmistakable, wizened figure walking slowly toward me. He had an eye patch and walked with two canes, one in each hand. I had heard so much about him, and seen so many photos, that it was a shock to suddenly be face to face with Richard Pritzlaff, as though a legend had come to life.
But he did not greet me right away. “No, no, don’t park here. Park over there,” he said, indicating an area a few yards ahead. I dutifully moved the car. Later he explained that if I had left the car where it was, the view from the house to the pastures would have been blocked.
When I got out of the car for the second time he looked at me. “How old are you?” he asked. I told him I was 22. “Then I am 63 years older than you,” he said, “and that is quite a lot.”
We walked toward the old adobe ranch house and sat on the porch, a long, covered area, narrow, level with the ground, and floored with stone. Richard told me he had brought the table and chairs we were using from the Philippines in about 1936. Looking at them, I had no trouble believing they had spent the last 50 years on that porch. Behind Richard, against the wall, was a huge Chinese urn with long peacock feathers standing in it. There were peacocks almost underfoot, so it was easy to see where the feathers had come from.
Next we looked at horses. Walking the herd with him, I noted that he liked a short, broad head, width between large jowls, and huge eyes. He seemed to like a big jibbah with deep dish to the face. He told me that he liked a balanced horse, though commented that he never understood what Raswan meant by the description “three-circle” conformation. I got the impression that selection for type, especially about the head, was particularly important to him.
Uniformity in the herd also seems to have been a goal. One ad from the 1960s featured the produce of *Bint El Bataa and proclaimed, “Like Peas in a Pod.” The two yearling fillies I saw, Permoniet RSI and Golmoniet RSI, were nearly identical. Later I learned they were seven-eighths sisters. Richard pointed out one mare as coming from the *Bint El Bataa family. “That’s a Seglawi line, isn’t it?” I asked. “That’s bunk,” he retorted. Richard explained that the Bedouin strains are all mixed up now, although I did hear him refer to animals as Seglawi type or Kehilan type. I gathered during my visit, and have since read in his writings, that Richard sought a horse with the strength of Raswan’s description of Kehilan type along with the beauty and elegance of Raswan’s description of Seglawi type.
We had walked to the far end of one of the large pastures when Richard looked at the sky and repeated an earlier warning about rain. Soon we felt a few drops. “We’d better get back,” Richard said as he turned around. We were still a fair distance from the house when a torrent came battering down on us, first rain, then hail. Richard moved as fast as he could with his hip replacement and two canes, and I kept pace beside him for a few strides before he yelled, “Run, run!” to me. So I bolted for the house and took shelter on the porch. A short while later Richard reached the house and stepped under cover. Thus at about noon we were both standing on the porch dripping wet and smiling at each other. At that moment we reached a sort of unspoken accord, and the slight stiffness of the morning disappeared.
We went inside. The house was long and dark, with floors of wood or stone. Chinese art was everywhere. The front room was cluttered with books and papers. “It won’t be easy to get back to the road with all this mud.” Richard told me “You might be here for a day or two.”
To reach the kitchen we passed through a small room that seemed more jungle than house, crossing a bridge over a pool of water instead of floor. Huge plants grew on all sides. From the kitchen I stared out the window at the rain, which continued to pour down, creating a network of ponds and streams behind the house. Richard offered me a drink, and I asked for ice. He informed me, “I don’t have any ice in this house,” so I had it without.
Richard answered two phone calls while we sat in the kitchen. A mutual acquaintance had helped arrange my visit, and I heard Richard say, “Your friend is here.” Another call was from someone who owned a granddaughter of *Rashad and told Richard she was their favorite horse.
In years past Richard had a reputation as an accomplished cook, but at 85 the lunch he served me was as he described it: “Nothing fancy: just good, nourishing food.” He told me stories of Arabian breeders he had known over the years, and greatly regretted that so many of them had been “corrupted by money,” as he put it.
When the rain stopped we went to look at stallions. I liked Raj RSI and Monietor-RSI best. Blue Boy, who was then 14, struck me as a good natured fellow of pronounced muscularity. One young grey appealed to neither of us. “I don’t think I’ll use him,” was Richard’s conclusion. Back in the house he read me selections from Raswan’s travel books, working from photocopies of what looked like typed manuscripts.
Friends had warned me that Richard was an old man who tired easily and that I should leave after four or five hours, but I found it difficult to get away. Each time I tried to excuse myself, he would bring out another stack of Raswan material, pour me another drink, take me back out to look at horses, put a magazine in my hands, or show me a bronze. Finally he made dinner. When I did leave, he walked me out to my car and told me to drive carefully. The mud was treacherous, but I avoided getting stuck and finally made it back to the gravel road.
GOALS AND PERSPECTIVES
The Pritzlaff breeding program had clearly stated goals, chief of which was preservation of “the very finest, true Bedouin horse” using “the world’s finest, purest Bedouin blood,” as Richard wrote. He was convinced there were no better bloodlines for the task than what he had assembled with the help of Raswan and von Pettko-Szandtner, although friends say he recognized and admired other bloodlines.
As time went on the herd became more tightly linebred, with a high relationship to *Rashad and *Bint Moniet in particular. By 1987 Richard was writing that “Pritzlaff Arabians are a type,” although it had probably been true a good many years before that. In an interview he stated, “Selection has established the type at Rancho San Ignacio.” He considered a quiet and gentle disposition to be an important Arabian characteristic. He also felt the Rabanna blood “contributed stronger croups and more athletic bodies.” When asked to name his favorites in the interview, the *Bint Moniet offspring Tatu, Monieta RSI, and Dymoniet RSI were all included.
A continental European approach informed Richard’s ideas of how to use horses, thus he was never tempted to select for some of the less useful aspects of halter horse conformation. If his horses could excel in dressage or jumping, or carry a rider mile after mile over the ranch, he was pleased with them. Richard Pritzlaff is named in the stud books as the breeder of more than 230 foals, many of which left the ranch and had successful careers. To discuss them all would require another article, so one recent example will have to do. The 1988 stallion Drkumo RSI (Dymoniet RSI x Kumoniet RSI) won the American Endurance Ride Conference’s Jim Jones Award in the ownership of Crockett and Sharon Dumas, Rodarte, New Mexico.
Richard believed his horses were healthier and happier living with access to spacious pastures and with all of their hair intact. He felt that keeping horses in confinement, hooded and blanketed and overgroomed, was unhealthy and psychologically damaging. In keeping with this philosophy, some of the more baroque aspects of barn architecture — fountains, Corinthian columns, cut crystal chandeliers — were not found at Rancho San Ignacio.
Richard continued to ride into his 80s. By the time Richard was 86, managing a large herd was becoming more difficult; he placed ads announcing a herd reduction. During his last years, breeding activity slowed and he became less mobile, but he could still see the horses from his window, and that made him happy. He died at the age of 94 on February 6, 1997, and a memorial service was held at the ranch on April 19. At the time of this writing, there are still about 40 Arabians on the ranch.
It was Richard’s wish that Rancho San Ignacio would be preserved as the half-tamed, mountain refuge he called home for more than 60 years, and that conscientious breeders would continue his program. The horses have already contributed to breeding programs around the world, many based largely or entirely on Pritzlaff blood.
**Arabian Horse World, November 1980, p. 364.
Articles by Richard Pritzlaff himself appeared in:
Arabian Horse World, May 1983, p. 387.
Arabian Visions, October 1987, p. 80.
And an interview with him appeared in:
Arabian Horse World, May 1987, p. 298.
Thanks also to Richard’s friends Gerald Klinginsmith, W.B. Winter, and Charles Craver.