by Count Joseph Potocki, The Arabian Horse News, February 1958:
“As to SKOWRONEK’s sire, IBRAHIM, he was purchased in 1907 in the following circumstances:
“My father, Count Joseph Potocki, Sr., who was at that time searching for a high class Arab stallion, received through his agents information that several Arabian horses had actually been obtained from the desert and were on their way via Constantinople, across the Black Sea to Odessa. He immediately sent an expert representative there and within a few days IBRAHIM was purchased with a few other stallions of lesser quality. In looks, IBRAHIM was perhaps even more striking than SKOWRONEK and also proved to be a great sire….
“Now there is one point which might seem puzzling with reference to IBRAHIM. Why was it that his sire, HEIJER, and dam LAFITTE, whose names were known, were inscribed in SKOWRONEK’s pedigree issued by me for the Arab Annex of Weatherby’s General Stud Book, England, in September 1919 and July 1920, while the official Polish Stud Books published at a later date do not contain those names? The fact that the sire or dam (or both) of a horse coming from the Arabian desert are known is not so unusual. Such horses, however, were always registered in our stud books as “Original Arab,” “Or.Ar.” This means in our Polish stud books “Arabian horse originally from the Arabian desert.” No further additions were given except the strain from which they came if that was certain. In the case of IBRAHIM, my father possessed the names of his sire and dam, HEIJER and LAFITTE, but inscribed him in our stud books in the above customery way. On the other hand, when the English owners of SKOWRONEK expressed the wish to have these names included in his pedigree, my father did not raise any objection. When, however, some years later the Polish Arab Horse Society published the official Polish Stud Books of Arab Horses, it was considered preferable to keep strictly to the wording of the Antoniny stud books in which IBRAHIM was defined as “Original Arab” without any additions. The Polish Arab Horse Society preferred to quote the exact wording of our stud books to which it had full and free access and this was all the more comprehensive since all additional papers pertaining to IBRAHIM had been lost in the business archives of Antoniny and could no longer be referred.
“The only authentic pedigree for IBRAHM’s son is the one issued in Antoniny in accordance with our stud books and which, acting for my father, I confirmed in London in 1919 and 1920. Any extension on IBRAHIM beyond his sire, HEIJER, and dam, LAFITTE, is not authentic.”
A copy of Count Joseph Potocki’s handwritten pedigree of Skowronek, written in 1919 is included in the same issue of The Arabian Horse News (and at the top of this page).
Another article in the February, 1958 issue of The Arabian Horse News was written by Count Roman Potocki (brother of Count Joseph, Jr.), “Ibrahim, Jaskoulka, Skowronek and the Antoniny Stud Books”:
“IBRAHIM was purchased by my father, Count Joseph Potocki, Sr., in 1907 from our agent horse dealer in Odessa who brought him by way of Constantinople from the Orient, not Egypt. IBRAHIM had a note pedigree with his age, his sire, HEIJER, and dam, LAFITTE, noted on it. My father liked the horse very much. There is no further extension to his pedigree.
“My father put him down in the Antoniny Sanguszko stud books as “Or. Ar.” “Or. Ar.” means in Polish stud books “Original or desert Arab from Arabia.” IBRAHIM was always written down as “Or. Ar.” in the Polish stud books without further ancestors. It was not customary to give the sires or dams of our desert importations in our stud books. They were always recorded as “Or. Ar.” The papers with his sire and dam, age, the business transaction, etc., were kept separately in our business files. About 1920 when my brother Joseph, then in England, wrote out the pedigree of SKOWRONEK for registration in the Arab Annex of Weatherby’s General Stud Book, he included the names of IBRAHIM’s sire and dam, HEIJER and LAFITTE.
“During the Revolution, when most of the horses, though not all, perished, the original stud books were saved. I knew them well before and after the events of 1917-1920, and they were taken by us to Warsaw. The house at Antoniny and the stud, except for a part of the young stock, were destroyed in January-February of 1919. The Stud Books were kept in our Warsaw Library and destroyed by fire in 1944 during the Warsaw Insurrection against the Germans. All the records were previously checked by the Polish Arab Horse Society and specified in their publications.”
Also, there is this sidebar in the same issue of The Arabian Horse News, on page 26, “Antoniny Stud Books Saved After World War I” by Count Joseph Potocki:
“The Antoniny Stud books were saved after World War I, and I had them in Warsaw until 1939.
“Some episodes in the early spring of 1918 gave us in the midst of destruction and material losses much reason for true and sincere satisfaction. The country all around Antoniny was by that time in a state of upheaval because of the Revolution, but the local population was not in the least hostile to us but continued to be friendly and make every effort to save and preserve. We owed to this attitude the saving of many objects from our country house and the possibility of taking them by various means to Warsaw. It was the local peasants who took some 56 cases of our books from Antoniny to a distant railroad station where they could be sent to Warsaw.
“Thus, our library was saved and with it two thick volumes in folio, the stud books, containing all the pedigrees of our horses, as well as the history of the stud written by Prince Roman Sanguszko about 1870. Later I completed his story with a detailed account of events in the stud during the first World War and its aftermath, the Russian Revolution. I wrote it myself and enumerated all the stud’s horses which were saved during that period.
“Before leaving my house in Warsaw, I put the stud books in what I considered a safe place. In 1944 the house was completely gutted by fire during the Warsaw Insurrection. Unless taken in previous looting, they are presumed destroyed by fire.”
Skowronek and Lady Wentworth at Crabbet Park, England. “No more perfect specimen has ever been imported to England,” Lady Wentworth once said.
Raffles, famous 24-year-old son of Skowronek out of Rifala, a daughter of Skowronek. He is owned by the Payne Arabian ranch.
Rifala, dam of Raffles, daughter of Skowronek, at 24 years of age.
Arraff, top Arabian cutting horse owned by Al-Marah Arabian Horse farm and ridden by Harold Brite.
Aaraf, by Raffles and out of Aarah, a granddaughter and a great-granddaughter of Skowronek. He is owned by the Ben Hur farm.
Raseyn, famous son of Skowronek, as he appeared in 1923 while at the W K Kellogg ranch.
It’s difficult to write about a famous horse, because so much has been said already. There is so much romanticism, mythology and legend spun around him that attempts at factual reporting are often misinterpreted as understatements.
Our conception of those who molded history (be they figures of equine significance or standouts in man’s progress through the ages) depends largely upon which history we read or what so-called authority we chose to accept.
So it is to some degree with the famed and fabled animal Skowronek, Arabian stallion credited with contributing more to the greatness of the modern Arab than any other individual of his breed. But, fortunately, Skowronek came onto the scene shortly after the turn of the century and for that reason his career is not so heavily veiled in mythology as many other immortals of the horse world.
Fortunate, too, is the fact that two of his sons are still alive today, a tribute to the great stamina and virility of his bloodline and proof of the magic-like quality with which he passed his much-sought characteristics to his progeny.
These two great sons of one of the greatest Arabians are Raseyn AHC 597 and Raffles AHC 952, and both are now grazing in green paddocks of the John V. Payne ranch in the hills south of Chino, California. Both are well past 20 years of age and sires of an astounding number of champions and are classic examples of Arabian perfection. Through these two sons and a few of his daughters the greatness of Skowronek has been preserved for breeders of today.
History, as recounted by some widely known chroniclers, spins the romantic story of the beautiful white stallion Skowronek being splattered with mud and smuggled out of Poland hitched to a lumbering cart during the Russian Revolution. We read, too, of the great horse’s dam being tortured by the Russians and hanged, with her aristocratic owners.
However, H. V. Musgrave Clark, of Sussex, England, who is one of the oldest Arab breeders in the British Empire, and a former owner of Skowronek, recently discredited this story.
Skowronek was in the Clark stud shortly after coming from Poland. “He was purchased in Poland by my friend, the late Walter Winans,” says Clark. “Winans sold him to me after he had used him as a model for various bronzes. Skowronek was actually in this country when the Russian Revolution was in full swing.”
Lady Wentworth of Crabbet Park stud subsequently acquired Skowronek and kept him until his death.
History shows that Skowronek was foaled in 1909. He was a grey Kehilan Ajuz imported into Poland from Egypt by the Antoniny Stud of Count Joseph Potocki, which was founded before 1700. His sire was Ibrahim by Heijer out of Lafitte. The dam was Yaskoulka, a Kehilet Ajuz by Rymnik out of Epopea by Dervish out of Lyra.
Clark’s selection of Skowronek is understandable; for the wiry, intelligent and classically featured little horse had the quality of siring heavily-quartered, compact animals such as were much in demand at the turn of the century. However, they still retained other characteristic Arabian qualities.
Skowronek was to the Arabian what Pete McCue was to the Quarter Horse. And maybe their sons had something in common. At least, Skowronek’s owner knew something of the greatness of the Western cow horse; for as a New Mexico cattle rancher many years before, he had seen these “short horses” in action.
We aren’t trying to prove that Skowronek was a Western Quarter Horse; but it surely was not entirely coincidental that the former New Mexico cattleman Clark picked out a stud in England that subsequently was the grandsire of Arabians that are winning the money in open Stock Horse competition today.
Arabian breeder Clark is proud of the fact that 45 years ago he was a cattle rancher in the Pecos valley, just a short distance from Roswell.
“The West was a great place when I was there and I often wish I had never left it.” he says.
The J. V. Paynes are glad Clark liked the West and the Western type horse; for he was probably indirectly responsible for them being able to breed their type of Arabians, the Stock Horse type with an Arabian head and refinement.
An insatiable desire to develop such bloodlines led Mrs Payne a year ago (Oct. 1949) to buy the ailing old stallion Raffles, with no assurance that a broken leg had properly knitted or that he was in breeding condition.
Despite his extreme age and highly questionable virility, Raffles immediately interested Mrs. Payne when she heard he was to go on the block in a dispersal sale. She flew from California to the Roger A. Selby stud at Portsmouth, Ohio, to see him, bought him at competitive bidding and chartered an express car to bring him home. Today she feels repaid a thousandfold, for Raffles is breeding sound and feeling fine.
Raffles, although very small in stature, sires colts much larger than himself and with tremendous quarters. His get are famed in the show ring from Canada to South America. Raffles’ dam, Rifala, was a daughter of Skowronek. Rifala was bred back to her own sire, Skowronek, to get Raffles. Thus, Raffles is intensely inbred, being 75 per cent Skowronek, and an excellent example of the hybrid law at work when bred to unrelated mares. Likewise, he serves as a classic means of intensifying Skowronek bloodlines when used on mares carrying dominant Skowronek breeding.
Raffles, who is only 13-3 hands, was foaled in 1926 at Lady Wentworth’s Crabbet Park stud and imported to America by Roger Selby in 1932. Although the smallest Arabian registered in this country, he is a classic example of the old phrase, “a big little horse,” weighing 1010 when in his prime. Because of his diminutive size and the fact his owner was somewhat more interested in American saddlebreds at the time, he was not used in the stud extensively, except to sire show ponies from Welsh mares, and these were all winners.
It wasn’t until May 1938, when his first stud colt was foaled, that anyone started to pay him much attention. This colt was the famed Indraff AHC 1578, a champion from the start and now senior stallion at the Al-Marah Arabian farm of Mrs. Peter Miller, of Bethesda, Maryland.
Another of Raffles’ finest sons is Rasraff, a blocky 1050 pound chestnut stud out of Rasmina, a granddaughter of Skowronek. He has won several Stock Horse competitions and is expected to follow in the footsteps of his Payne ranch stablemate, Shereyn, the fast little stud that took top money in the light Stock Horse open competition at San Francisco’s Cow Palace in 1946. Shereyn, incidentally, surprised a lot of the Quarter Horse people and took no small amount of money away from them by winning the Cow Palace show.
Another Skowronek grandson that has the cowboys going back for a second look is Al-Marah farm’s gelding son of Raffles, Arraff.
In a sensational performance, he took top money in the National Stallion show open Stock Horse class at Waterloo, Iowa, in 1949, cleaned up at a number of local shows through the Midwest, then went on to the big American Royal at Kansas City and came off with third place, showing against the best Quarter Horses in the country.
Owner Mrs. Peter Miller is out to prove her Arabians can really get the cutting horse job done in a big way and has purchased a young Quarter Horse from the King ranch to haze for Arraff.
Raffles and his famous sire are just naturally putting that extra something into their progeny, especially as regards Stock Horse type Arabians. And the Arabian breeders are quick to grasp it. Mrs. Miller takes great pleasure in pointing to The Western Horseman article which enthusiastically said: “Arraff showed definite superiority in the Stock Horse contest, but we were particularly impressed with him in the cutting contest… he may be one of those naturals… this grey gelding’s efforts were certainly a credit to the breed.”
And Mrs. Miller assures us we haven’t heard the last of Arraff and her other “working Arabians.” She’s very strong on Skowronek bloodlines and agrees with the authority, James P. Dean, that “few studs put it on ’em like Raffles.” Dean, for 15 years with the Selby stud, is probably the nation’s top authority on Skowronek, whom he terms “the greatest contributing factor to Arabians in America.”
Another Arabian authority, H. H. Reese, manager for many years of the W. K. Kellogg Arabian Horse ranch, similarly praises Skowronek. Reese, on a world tour for Kellogg, visited Lady Wentworth’s Crabbet Park stud in 1928 and saw Skowronek.
“He was just about perfect,” says Reese, who is specializing in Skowronek out-crossing at his West Covina ranch in California. “He was very impressive, with gorgeous head and neck, high natural tail carriage, wonderful legs and straight action. He was, of course, very old when I saw him, but still a very superior animal. And he has bred along truer than any other line.”
Skowronek died a few years after Reese’s visit.
Lady Wentworth described Skowronek as an ideal specimen of the type which Abbas Pasha, Viceroy of Egypt, spent a fortune developing. “No more perfect specimen has ever been imported to England,” she wrote in one of her early works. “Lady Anne Blunt (her mother) spent the last 20 years of her life in a vain search for a horse of Skowronek’s type,” she said.
Lady Wentworth later termed Skowronek “the sole surviving line” of the original Polish blood. Whether she ever actually turned down the reported $250,000 offer for him has never been substantiated, but the figure is often quoted.
Arabian enthusiasts, too, point to the famed European endurance rides as proof of the kind of animals Skowronek’s breeder developed. A Prussian officer, Lt. W. von Gaffein, mounted on a Count Potocki Arabian, took the gold medal for finishing with his horse in best condition in a race from Vienna to Berlin. The distance was 425 miles. The riders started Monday morning and finished Thursday noon, that is, 71 of the 117 starters finished. Forty-two of the other horses died along the way.
That gold medal winner was the kind of blood Skowronek carried.
Only three of Skowronek’s sons ever came to the United States: Raswan, Raffles and Raseyn. Raswan, long-since dead, sired no foals here. Another son is believed to be in South America [Raktha was sold by Lady Wentworth to Mr. A. J. Botha of South Africa in 1951].
James Dean has a very keen personal interest in Skowronek’s son, Raffles, for he and Mrs. Dean never left the little horse’s side for 16 long weeks when the game old stud lay in a sling with a broken hind leg in January 1949. They nursed him through colic, cramps and skin eruptions as he stood helpless. They watched him waste away from top condition to emaciation, and waited fearfully when the cast was finally removed. So it’s understandable that they visit the Payne’s at every opportunity, correspond regularly regarding Raffles’ condition, and are happy that he staged a comeback and has such a good home.
“He has the greatest stamina and recuperative powers of any horse I’ve ever seen,” said Dean the other day as he visited at the Payne ranch. “And look at the beautiful, wide head, the deep jaw and that gay way about him, his long forearm and broad back. No wonder he has ability to sire horses with tremendous quarters.”
Dean is frankly unabashed at claiming Raffles is one of modern horsedom’s greatest personalities.
“And look at his daughters,” he adds. “Cassandra, bred by W. C. Shuey, of Ashville, N.C., and owned by R. B. Field, of Leavenworth, Wash., has won every class she was ever shown in, and that includes the Grand National mares class at Cheyenne, the Crabbet award and the Jane Llewellyn Ott perpetual trophy. She’s virtually unbeatable. Skowronek blood again.”
While Raffles’ stablemate at the Payne ranch, Raseyn, is not active in the stud, he is a distinguished personage on the property and his bloodlines are being carried on there.
Imported by W. K. Kellogg in 1929 at the age of three, he is one of the most photographed horses in America, having posed with hundreds of movie stars and world figures during his prime at the famous Kellogg Arabian Horse ranch at Pomona, California. A stablemate of Jadaan, famed as the horse that Rudolph Valentino rode, he was one of the glamour boys of the Kellogg ranch. Both horses were used extensively in motion picture work, through the efforts of Arabian authority Spide Rathbun of the Kellogg Foundation.
Raseyn, by Skowronek out of the mare Rayya, was purchased from the Lady Wentworth stud, and was owned variously by the Kellogg Foundation, the University of California, the United States Army, and Department of Agriculture.
He was about to be destroyed at the age of 26 when Mrs. Payne obtained him. She nursed him back to health with a special diet, and today he is in exceptional good flesh and may return to breeding condition.
The Paynes had previously bought a son and two daughters of Raseyn in their efforts to obtain more direct Skowronek bloodlines. These included Rasmina, the dam of Rasraff and a granddaughter of Skowronek. She is now dead. However, Rasrah, a 20-year-old daughter of Raseyn and grand-daughter of Skowronek, is still alive. The former mount of actress Olivia de Havilland, she has foaled the Paynes’ three mares: one by a son of Raseyn, one by a son of Raffles and one by Raffles.
So it’s easy to see that the Paynes are not just making conversation when they speak so enthusiastically of their program of intensifying Skowronek bloodlines. They are doing it.
“(Skowronek) was foaled in 1909 at Antoniny Stud, owned by Count Joseph Potocki.” p. 45 “According to Lady Wentworth [see page 307 in the 1962 edition of Lady Wentworth’s The Authentic Arabian Horse, originally published in 1945] his ancestry went back to Abbas Pasha I’s Arabs, through his sire Ibrahim. [See Lady Wentworth’s illustrated Pedigree of Dafinetta, p. 63] Here she relied on the notes of her mother, which she made on a visit to Antoniny. In Poland no such assertion had ever been made, but simply that Ibrahim had been bought at Odessa in 1907. Dr Gustav Rau, the great German authority, reported his own visit to Antoniny in Sankt Georg and described the two stallions there exhaustively. They were Ibrahim and Massaud. He noted under the photograph of Ibrahim: ‘Seglawi stallion, imported Arab, born near Damascus’, and under Massaud, ‘Bred by Ali Pasha Sherif, Cairo'”. Erika Schile The Arab Horse in Europe 1967 First American edition, p. 45.↩
The subject of sire lines is an interesting one. In a sense they can be taken as canaries in the genetic coal mine–where traditional sire lines persist, it usually (though not always) means someone is selecting for a traditional stamp of horse, or at least paying attention to something other than the dictates of current fashion. The historical trend in most breeds is for the overall population to be grafted over to fashionable new male lines every few years.
There are surprisingly few sire lines in the Arabian breed, and the pre-1950 North American ones almost all trace ultimately to Ibrahim (Skowronek) or Zobeyni (Mesaoud, whose strongest branch is *Astraled to Gulastra; and Mahruss to Rijm). Among the Davenport lines, *Deyr and *Muson are pretty solid; all straight Davenports now trace to one or the other, and they also have representatives in combined-source breeding. I am not sure *Muson persists except through Kimfa, outside the modern straight Davenports and a few of their close derivatives. The lines of Las Trad and Ibn Hanrah for example descend from *Deyr.
Most of the other long-term survivors have to be classed as “trace” sire lines, and if any of these is to continue in existence, still less to prosper, someone has to make an effort to find the horses and get them used. The Old English *Kismet line is still available, and potentially so is the Davenport one of *Abbeian through Ralf. Davenport also brought in, before his own desert importation, *Nejdran DB who may be hanging on as well.
The old Midwest sire lines from *Saoud and *Al-Mashoor are getting very thin on the ground, I do not expect them to carry on. Ironically the other sire in this category, *Mirage, who was fading out a few years ago, illustrates how these things can be turned around: this is now a candidate for the world’s most widespread sire line, thanks to Bay-Abi and especially to his grandsons Bey Shah, Huckleberry Bey and Barbary. Those horses are not generally operating in the context of CMK breeding (Bey Shah is over half Polish, and Barbary over 75%), and the *Mirage sire line outside this branch still needs some attention.
Our other Old English sire line is that of *Aldebar to Dwarka, and although this line has died out in England it’s experienced a resurgence lately here: *Aldebar’s grandson Bezatal was widely used by endurance breeders, so his branch looks like remaining a strong one for a while. There are other branches of the *Aldebar line which were fairly widespread a few years ago and may still be available.
The other CMK sire lines which are potentially active are *Mounwer and *Zamal of the Hearst importation (the line of *Ghamil has just died out); these horses have grandsons active but again, there needs to be some attention paid to the sire lines if they are to hang on.
Sire lines are markers for breed history but they also have a biological reality: recall that the Y chromosome is transmitted only from sire to son, and if a sire line dies out, a particular Y chromosome is gone. Genetic variation has been demonstrated in the Y chromosomes of other species (including humans) so there is no reason to think it does not exist in the horse as well.
Copyright 1990 by R.J. CADRANELL from Arabian Visions March 1990
Used by permission of RJ Cadranell
Judith Blunt was five years old when the first Arabians arrived at Crabbet Park in 1878. By the time she died in 1957, she had spent 79 years with the breed, and the Crabbet Stud had owned or bred more than a thousand horses. Her position was unique. Modern Arabian horse breeding in the English-speaking world dates from 1874. Lady Wentworth was a part of it, originally as an observer and later as a dominant force, almost from the beginning. Many Americans became involved with the Arabian horse during the 1940s and 1950s, when the breed was moving out of the realm of rare breeds and into the equestrian mainstream. These people owned and bred their horses in Lady Wentworth’s shadow. This titled aristocrat had been involved with the breeding of Arabian horses longer than most of them had been alive. She had bred some of the most cherished ancestors in the pedigrees of their horses: *Raffles, *Raseyn, and *Rissletta (dam of Abu Farwa). She lived on a fabled estate almost none of them had ever seen. Her death brought with it the awe and dismay which accompanies the demise of hallowed institutions expected to last forever.
Lady Wentworth kept her distance, secluding herself at Crabbet. Her many books loudly praise Crabbet horses and inadvertently give us glimpses of her eccentric personality, but it is impossible to look at her or her breeding program through them alone. Other sources aid our understanding of this key figure.
Lady Anne Blunt’s published Journals and Correspondence indicate that Judith’s interest in the stud was never desultory. Nonetheless, Lady Anne Blunt often expressed disappointment at her daughter’s apparent lack of interest in continuing the stud when she herself would be gone. After Lady Anne Blunt died and Judith inherited from her the title of Lady Wentworth, there was no doubt about her desire to control the Crabbet Stud
Lady Anne Blunt died at the end of 1917. Beginning in 1918, Wilfrid Blunt had been removing horses by night from the Crabbet stables and stockpiling them at his estate at Newbuildings. Lady Wentworth learned to lock her paddock gates. During the ensuing lawsuit, perhaps in anticipation of the court coming down on her father’s side, Lady Wentworth began gathering scattered Crabbet animals. She repurchased the stallion Nadir from George Ruxton. She also repurchased the mares Jask, Amida, and Kibla. Her son-in-law lent her Rish. She and her children forcibly removed the mare Riyala, a special favorite of Lady Wentworth’s, from her father’s stables. With these she had the makings of her own Crabbet program to rival her father’s at Newbuildings.
Lady Wentworth was 47 years old when the courts settled the lawsuit in her favor on March 5, 1920. The first Arabians returned from Newbuildings on April 16. In the interim, Lady Wentworth had acquired a grey stallion named Skowronek. Skowronek was one of very few Arabians with no Crabbet ancestors which Lady Wentworth used for breeding, and the only one to become a part of her long-term program. He had been bred in Poland at Count Potocki’s Antoniny Stud. The Blunts had admired many of the Potocki mares during their visits to Antoniny, but their writings indicate they did not consider Antoniny a viable source of Crabbet foundation stock. The disputed Riyala was one of the first mares Lady Wentworth bred to Skowronek. She named the foal Revenge, and proceeded to weave Skowronek into the Crabbet tapestry.
When the horses returned to Crabbet, Lady Wentworth found herself the owner of between 80 and 90 Arabians. Many of these were excess colts and breeding stallions. She was able to reduce the herd by selling nearly 20 to Egypt’s Royal Agricultural Society. During the lawsuit, she had complained about her father turning horses into cash. Now that she was able to choose which horses would go and which stay home, sales were known as reducing the herd to a manageable size.
The period from 1920 to 1930 was a time of great experimentation at Crabbet. The genetic base was broad, and Lady Wentworth broadened it further with Skowronek blood and by continuing to reacquire Crabbet horses her parents had sold into other hands. The mare band was in full production, with nearly every mare covered every year. Lady Wentworth bred mares to a variety of sires, giving them a chance to show what they could produce by each. Lady Wentworth conducted a number of experiments in inbreeding. Rasim, *Nureddin II, and Skowronek all had the chance to sire foals out of their own daughters. Rasim was also bred to his dam, Risala. The most famous result of these consanguineous matings was *Raffles, a favorite of many American breeders from the late 1930s to the present. Among the horses Lady Wentworth returned to Crabbet during the 1920s were *Nureddin II, *Battla, Astola, Jawi-Jawi, Fejr, Nessima, Riz, and Rythma. She also bought the all Crabbet Savile-bred mare Julnar. In doing this, she was able to revive lines which had died out at Crabbet itself, in particular the Basilisk and Johara families. Halima briefly returned the Bint Helwa line. With Fejr to represent the Ferida family, Lady Wentworth was able to let the bay *Ferda go to the Kellogg Ranch in 1920.
Many of the horses Lady Wentworth bred during the 1920s travelled the globe and ended up changing the course of world Arabian breeding, whether in Australia, the United States, Poland, Brazil, Egypt, Russia, or Spain. Of those which stayed home for a time, among the most important to Crabbet’s future turned out to be Shareer, Naseem, Razina, Silver Fire, Rissam, Raseem, Ferhan, and Astrella.
Crabbet’s breeding peak under Lady Wentworth was in 1929, when nearly 30 broodmares were covered for 1930 foals. By 1931, the Depression had caught up with Crabbet. Lady Wentworth cut production by a third. The 1932 foal crop of eight was the smallest Wentworth crop yet. In 1933 only two foals were born. Although foal production expanded slightly in 1934 and 1935, Crabbet was overstocked and in financial trouble. A discouraged Lady Wentworth contemplated giving up the Crabbet Stud.
In 1936, however, a major reduction took place. Lady Wentworth sold 25 horses to Russia’s Tersk Stud, three to America’s Kellogg Ranch, and other horses went singly in 1936 or ’37 to new owners in Australia, Portugal, Brazil, Holland, and England. With numbers reduced and the genetic base narrowed, foal production at Crabbet continued on a limited basis as the Depression era abruptly ended and the war years began.
During the war Lady Wentworth’s aunt, Mary Lovelace, died and left her a large fortune. It marked the end of the financial problems which had hampered Lady Wentworth’s management of the Crabbet Stud from the beginning. In 1926 Lady Wentworth’s son, Anthony Lytton Milbanke, later the fourth Earl of Lytton, visited W.K. Kellogg. Kellogg had, earlier that year, bought a number of horses from Lady Wentworth. In a memo dated July 27, 1926, Kellogg recorded that “Mr. Milbanke stated that the propagating of horses by his mother had not proven profitable; he mentioned that this year had been an exception, and was the most profitable year that they had ever had.” This apparently refers to the more than $80,000 Kellogg had paid Lady Wentworth for his horses.
When the war ended, Lady Wentworth had been learning about Arabian breeding for 68 years. Despite the smaller numbers born during the Depression and war years, the breeding program had continued to advance. Of the horses born at Crabbet during the Depression, the most important to its future were Sharima, Indian Gold, Indian Crown, and Sharfina. If Lady Wentworth had spent the 1920s finding the way she wanted to go, then the 1930s saw the birth of the horses she needed to get there. During the war these elements began to come together in horses like Grey Royal, Silver Gilt, Indian Magic, Silfina, and *Serafina. By the spring of 1946, nothing stood in the way. Lady Wentworth was free to apply her knowledge to the production of horses which matched her ideals. Although foal production had increased toward the end of the war, the 1947 crop was the first to evidence the expanding breeding program. Ten foals was a large crop during the years between 1936 and 1946. After the war, Lady Wentworth’s foal crops again reached toward the mark of 20.
Post-war breeding at Crabbet produced its own distinctive stamp of Crabbet Arabian. Since 1920 Lady Wentworth had been culling the herd and selecting for the characteristics she most admired. The breeding she did in her later years stressed a few key animals, namely Raktha, Oran, Sharima, Silver Fire, Indian Gold, and Nisreen. Raktha and Oran were bred at Lady Yule’s Hanstead Stud from straight Crabbet bloodlines; Lady Wentworth bought them as youngsters. It is difficult to imagine post-war Crabbet without these two stallions. Writers often comment on Lady Wentworth’s knack for recognizing the potential of immature stock. Part of this was no doubt because she had spent her entire life watching animals of Crabbet breeding go from birth to old age. No one else was similarly qualified to predict how a young Crabbet Arabian would look at maturity. After the war, Lady Wentworth also added to her mare band from English studs using Crabbet lines. Included were Indian Flower and *Silver Crystal.
The movie footage of Lady Wentworth’s parades (what we in America might think of as “open houses”) of 1952 and 1953 document what she had achieved. With a remarkable degree of consistency, the films show us tall Arabians with upright carriage and lofty bearing. They are regal, magnetic animals with tremendous presence and arched necks. They seem to move well. Faults showing up in the herd with some frequency are long backs and a tendency to stand high behind. When Lady Wentworth died in August of 1957, she owned about 75 of these “Modern Crabbet” Arabians. To American breeders, the best known examples of Modern Crabbet horses are probably *Serafix, *Silver Vanity, and *Silver Drift. As impressive as these horses were, they replaced the wider variety of Arabian types which had graced Crabbet in earlier days.
With a few exceptions, Lady Wentworth stayed within the parameters of the Crabbet herd as her parents had defined it. The first and most lasting exception was Skowronek. By the time Lady Wentworth died, very few of her horses had pedigrees without Skowronek in them. In 1928 Lady Wentworth began using the stallion Jeruan, whose pedigree traced to the non-Crabbet desert-bred horses El Emir and Maidan. Lady Wentworth used none of his foals for breeding, but Roger Selby imported Jeruan’s daughter *Rishafieh to America, where she had a successful breeding career. In 1930 Lady Wentworth bred a number of mares to the Thoroughbred stallion Mighty Power, an experiment in Anglo-Arab breeding which apparently did not last at Crabbet. In 1946 Lady Wentworth purchased a remarkable yearling colt named Dargee. A sensationally successful show horse, Dargee traced to several non-Crabbet imported lines, namely those of Dwarka, Mootrub, El Emir, Ishtar, and Kesia II. Dargee was a successful cross on the Crabbet mares and Lady Wentworth did use his offspring Royal Crystal, Sirella, and Indian Peril for breeding, but that is the furthest extent to which she had incorporated him at the time of her death.
Many breeders of Arabian horses have suspected that certain coat colors are usually found in conjunction with recognizable types. Since there is no way to quantify a horse’s “look” in the scientific sense, the science of genetics is not yet able to tell whether this is so. Coat color was important to Lady Wentworth’s breeding program. She exhibited a preference for grey horses all her life. Her first recorded favorite in her mother’s Journals was the grey mare Basilisk, apparently the first Arabian she ever rode. Judith Blunt was six at the time.
The Blunts seem to have selected against grey to a certain extent. Greys were harder to sell to military remounts and government studs, a significant portion of the Blunts’ customer base. This was due to greys being easier targets on the battlefield, as well as grey hair being more obvious on dark uniforms. For the most part, it is only generals who are depicted on white horses. The last of the three grey sires the Blunts used was Seyal, sold to India in 1904. With the exception of a non-productive breeding to Rosemary, the GSB records that the Blunts restricted Seyal to grey mares. Mrs. Archer states that Judith was anxious for her mother to find another grey stallion for the stud, but that she was unsuccessful in her search (History and Influence, page 146.) During the lawsuit, Lady Wentworth claimed that her mother had intended for her to have every grey mare in the stud.
Reconstructed lists of the Crabbet herd at the time immediately after the settling of the lawsuit indicate that slightly more than half of the horses were bay or brown, a third were chestnut, and the remaining 15% were grey. The figures concur with Lady Anne Lytton’s recollection of the period, recorded in her article “Memories of the Crabbet Stud,” from the August, 1963 Arabian Horse Journal: “…bays were more common than chestnuts…[but] when Lady Wentworth took over the Stud I think she found that the quality among the chestnuts was much higher, with a few notable exceptions. At the time of her death there was not a bay left at Crabbet. She was not very fond of bays…” *Nizzam was one of the last bays foaled at Crabbet.
To speak today of an Arabian of “Crabbet Type” is a misleading oversimplification. Among Lady Wentworth’s horses, *Raffles and Grand Royal come to mind as two vastly different extremes. The Blunts owned animals as different from one another as Rijm and Sobha. Today, finding an Arabian of pure Crabbet pedigree is as difficult as finding one with no Crabbet blood at all. In a 1% sampling of 80 pedigrees from vol. XL (1982) of our stud book, the writer found that every one had Crabbet ancestry, including those in the pure Polish and straight Spanish categories. In spite of the present dilution of Crabbet blood, and in spite of the variety of horses Crabbet owned, certain ancestors reappear again and again in their descendants. Once familiar with them, it is possible to recognize the influences of Rodania, Mesaoud, Skowronek, Sharima, Feluka, and the rest of the pantheon of Crabbet luminaries.
Index to English-Bred Arabians Named Above
1913 cm Ibn Yashmak/Ajramieh
1910 bm Rijm/Asfura
1929 cm Raseem/Amida
1915 gm Razaz/Bukra
1945 cs Manasseh/Myola
G. H. Ruxton
1899 cm Mesaoud/Ferida
1913 bm Rustem/Feluka
1925 cs *Raswan/Fejr
1911 cm Rijm/Feluka
1947 cs Oran/Sharima
1942 gm Raktha/Sharima
1916 bm Razaz/Hamasa
1935 cm Raseem/Nisreen
1939 cm Irex/Nisreen
Miss I. Bell
1934 cs Ferhan/Nisreen
1945 gs Raktha/Indian Crown
1952 cm Dargee/Indian Pearl
1910 gm *Berk/Jellabieh
1912 cm Rijm/Jiwa
1920 cs Nureddin II/Rose of Persia
1911 cm *Abu Zeyd/Kabila
1900 gm Mesaoud/Makbula
1901 bs Mesaoud/Nefisa
1922 gs Skowronek/Nasra
1909 bm Rijm/Narghileh
1919 bm *Nureddin II/Nasra
1943 bs Rissam/Nezma
1911 cs Rijm/Narghileh
1940 cs Riffal/Astrella
1926 gs Skowronek/*Rifala
1934 gs Naseem/Razina
1922 cs Rasim/Riyala
1923 gs Skowronek/Rayya
1906 cs Feysul/Risala
1922 cm Rasim/Riyala
1921 gs Skowronek/Riyala
1901 cs Mahruss/*Rose of Sharon
1900 cm Mesaoud/Ridaa
1903 bm Nejran/Rabla
1930 cm Jeruan/Rishafa
1928 cs Naseem/Rim
1930 cm Naseem/Risslina
1905 cm *Astraled/Ridaa
1916 bm Razaz/*Rijma
1886 bm Jeroboam/Rodania
1952 gs Dargee/Grey Royal
1914 bm *Berk/Risala
1945 cm Indian Gold/Sharfina
1949 cs Raktha/*Serafina
1897 gs Mesaoud/Sobha
1923 bs *Nureddin II/Selima
1937 cm Rytham/Sharima
1932 cm Shareer/Nashisha
1944 cm Indian Gold/Sharfina
1937 gm Rangoon/Somara
1951 gs Raktha/*Serafina
1926 gm Naseem/Somra
1943 gm Indian Gold/Silver Fire
1950 gs Oran/Silver Gilt
1953 cm Dargee/Shalina
Arab Horse Society, The. The Arab Horse Stud Book 7 vols. England, 1919-52.
Archer, Rosemary, Colin Pearson, and Cecil Covey. The Crabbet Arabian Stud. Gloucestershire, 1978.
Archer, Rosemary, and James Fleming, editors. Lady Anne Blunt, Journals and Correspondence. Gloucestershire, 1986.
Blunt, Wilfrid S. My diaries. 2 vols. New York, 1922.
Kellogg Ranch Papers, The. Collection held by California State Polytechnic University, Pomona, California.
London Times, February 20 & 21, 1920.
Parkinson, Mary Jane, The Kellogg Arabian Ranch. 1977.
Weatherby & Sons. The General Stud Book, vols. 13-35, London, 1877-1965.
Wentworth, Lady. The Authentic Arabian Horse. 3rd., 1979.