Tag Archives: Wentworth

Hanstead Horses

This entry is part 1 of 2 in the series Hanstead Horses

Copyright 1997 by R.J. CADRANELL
from Arabian Visions Mar/Apr 1997
Used by permission of RJ Cadranell

Next to Crabbet, no English stud has been as important as Hanstead. Hanstead’s worldwide influence is particularly remarkable in light of the relatively short time it was in operation—not even 35 years of breeding—and the relatively small number of foals produced. There were barely 125, while Crabbet had more than a thousand spread over 93 years.

The Hanstead Stud owed its origin to Lady Yule, wife of merchant prince Sir David Yule. He and his brother Andrew amassed a fortune in India, estimated at up to 20 million pounds. David and Annie Henrietta Yule were married in 1900. Sir David Yule and his wife had just one child, a daughter named Gladys, born at Hanstead House in 1903. The Hanstead estate was in Hertfordshire, and there Lady Yule and her daughter Gladys took to breeding Thoroughbreds and Suffolk Punch horses, along with cattle and other livestock. Sir David Yule died in 1928 and is not known to figure directly in the story of the Hanstead Stud.

Lady Yule “first became interested in Arabs on seeing the gallant carriage and action of a pair of Arabs regularly driven to York, from his home, by Major Wailes-Fairburn.”[1]

Razina (

Razina (Rasim x Riyala).

Lady Yule wanted to try her hand at Anglo-Arab breeding, thus on July 11, 1925, she and her daughter Gladys visited Lady Wentworth’s Arabian stud at Crabbet Park. That year at Hanstead the Thoroughbred mare Tarantella produced a filly by the Crabbet stallion *Nasik; this may have been the cause of Lady Yule’s visit to Crabbet. But before the day was out, Lady Yule had purchased a young Arab mare named Razina. Razina had been sold to Ireland but recently repurchased by Crabbet in foal to the Thoroughbred stallion Mighty Power. It is not clear whether Lady Yule liked Razina’s looks or was simply interested in her anticipated Anglo-Arab foal. Nonetheless Arabian breeders around the world can be glad Lady Yule chose the mare she did.

Razina later won five gold medals, establishing Hanstead as a power in the show ring. Razina’s broodmare career, however, established her place in history. After producing the Anglo-Arab filly Razzia in 1926, Razina was never mated to another Thoroughbred.

Razina was not covered in 1926 because of a railway strike, but in 1927 Lady Yule sent her to the Arabian stallion Almulid (Skowronek x Alfarouse), bred and owned by the Hon. Mrs. R. E. L. Vaughan Williams. The resulting filly, Rasana, soon joined her mother as a Hanstead broodmare, bringing the Arabian mare band to a total of two. Rasana turned out to be a poor mother whose foals had to be raised by hand; she was put down in 1937, and her two fillies not retained.

Raktha (Naseem X Razina)

Lady Wentworth was unhappy when she learned Lady Yule was using Razina for purebred breeding. For the next several years, Lady Yule sent her mares to outside stallions, but did not have access to those at Crabbet. Instead she used horses of entirely or largely Crabbet blood. These horses included C.W. Hough’s Nuri Sherif (*Nureddin II x Sheeba) and Akal (Shelook x Almas), and Capt. the Hon. George Savile’s Joseph (Nadir x Maisuna). Of the six foals produced in these early years, only Nurschida (Nuri Sherif x Razina) had influence on the later Hanstead program. Through her sire, Nurschida carried one line to Miss Dillon’s imported stallion Maidan, thus was not quite “pure Crabbet,” although like all Hanstead Arabians, Nurschida was registered in the Arabian section of Weatherby’s General Stud Book (GSB).

In 1932 the Hanstead mare band expanded. Mr. and Mrs. Kent, known to the pony breeding fraternity, visited Crabbet and purchased two young mares. In less than a week the mares turned up at Hanstead. They were chestnut Astrella (Raseem x Amida) and grey Naxina (Skowronek x Nessima). Lady Wentworth had used a similar ploy to acquire Skowronek in 1920. The ice between Lady Wentworth and Lady Yule broke not long after this episode, and in 1933 Lady Yule sent all five of her Arabian mares to Crabbet for breeding.

The 1934 foal crop included Hanstead’s first sire prospects, the greys Raktha and Grey Owl. Of the two colts produced prior to 1934, Halil Sherif was gelded “as he had not got a perfect Arab head or eyes.”[2] He was hunted with the Heythrop Hunt in 1933-34, jumping anything asked, and later took up dressage, giving a performance at the International Horse Show, Olympia. Kehelan was sold to Scotland for crossing on Highland mares. He proved infertile, and later found a home with the Bertram Mills Circus. After that he became the first Arabian owned by Mrs. Linney, later a well known breeder in England, and owner of another Yule-bred horse: Mikeno, purchased in 1952.

It could be debated endlessly whether the Yules had a knack for choosing sires, or whether they simply had in Razina the beginning of a mare family with which it was scarcely possible to go wrong. Probably both were factors. According to Miss Yule’s companion and stud manager, Miss Patricia Wold, Gladys Yule believed in using only the best sires and wanted the Arab Horse Society to inspect the conformation and type of all stallions before approving them for breeding.[3]

To return to Raktha, he swept the show ring in 1937, and that year it was noted that “much interest and amusement has been caused by the various opinions as to which is the best, Grey Owl or Raktha.”[3] Although Grey Owl did leave several lines, 60 years of breeding have proven Raktha the more influential of the two. Lady Wentworth bought Raktha in 1939, and from 1940 until his sale to South Africa in 1951 he was one of Crabbet’s chief sires.

During the 1930s the Hanstead mares continued to visit outside stallions. Lady Yule patronized Crabbet’s Naseem, Raseem, Faris, Naufal, and Naziri. Lady Yule is the only outside breeder recorded in the stud books as sending a mare to Naseem. Rosemary Archer explains this was because no other breeders in England could afford the high stud fees Lady Wentworth charged at that time for her best stallions.

In 1936 two more sire prospects were born at Hanstead: Riffal (of whom more later) and Naseel. Naseel was a classic 14.1 hand grey, sold as a yearling to Mrs. Nicholson in Ireland. Describing Naseel as a riding horse, she wrote in the Spring, 1960, Arab Horse Society News,

“I was thrilled. I had never ridden an Arab horse before, let alone a stallion, and I just couldn’t believe the joy that he gave me.”

Naseel became a successful sire of children’s show ponies as well as purebreds. Naseel’s sire was Raftan (Naseem x Riyala), bred at Crabbet but owned elsewhere. Naseel was invited to make a special appearance at the Arab Horse Society’s 1956 Summer Show, where he and his progeny paraded in front of the Queen.

Another outside horse Hanstead used in the 1930s was George Ruxton’s Algol (Dwarka x Amida), who sired Namilla for Lady Yule. The last time an outside stallion was used was 1939, when Razina and Nurschida went to Shihab (Algol x Almas).

In 1938 or 1939 Lady Yule acquired the last of her foundation mares by trading Ghezala to Lady Wentworth for the Rissam daughter Niseyra. Through her son Blue Domino, Niseyra was to be just as important as the earlier acquisitions.

Lady Yule seems to have brought home no more than three stallions in her entire career as a breeder. One was Radi, the foal Razina had had in 1925. He was acquired from Crabbet during the early part of the war years and was used at Hanstead before returning to Crabbet. Lady Yule seems to have made a special effort to work Rissam into the herd. In 1940, five out of the six Yule mares were bred to Rissam. No other Hanstead sire ever dominated a single foal crop to this extent. Only Rissam’s daughter Niseyra had a 1941 foal by a different horse, although Lady Yule would try her with Rissam the following year—the only close inbreeding at Hanstead recorded in the stud books.

Although Radi and Rissam each sired a few important foals at Hanstead, the most brilliant acquisition was Rissalix (Faris x Rissla), purchased from Crabbet in 1940. Known for his quality and brilliant action, a better cross for the Hanstead mares could scarcely have been found. Yet another example of Hanstead’s worldwide success despite tiny numbers, Rissalix sired fewer than 20 Yule-bred foals of record, but they include such as *Count Dorsaz, Blue Domino, Mikeno, and Pale Shadow (dam of Bright Shadow). Rissalix was one of the few horses Lady Wentworth later regretted selling, but owing to labor shortages after the start of the war it was necessary to reduce the number of stallions at Crabbet.

The decade of cooperation between Crabbet and Hanstead came to a close toward the end of the war. Lady Yule tried to buy from Crabbet a colt named Indian Grey, full brother to Indian Magic, but Lady Wentworth refused to sell. In 1943, shortly after, Lady Wentworth made an offer on Oran, but Lady Yule retaliated and turned it down. Instead, she sold Oran to Mr. C. McConnell in 1944, who sold him to the British Bloodstock Agency, which sold him to Lady Wentworth later the same year. When Lady Yule learned that Oran was at Crabbet, relations were broken off. Oran did leave his daughter Umatella at Hanstead, but it was at Crabbet, where his blood was frequently combined with Raktha’s, that he achieved his fame as a sire.

Crabbet and Hanstead emerged from the war years as rivals, both in the show ring and the marketplace. The stud was now under the direction of Miss Gladys Yule, as Lady Yule gave the horses to her daughter in 1946. Lady Yule died on July 14, 1950.

In the post-war years Hanstead was a mature stud, with a band of 10 to 15 mares and a battery of homebred stallions standing alongside and later succeeding Rissalix and Radi. In addition to Grey Owl, these included:

Colorados (Radi x Astrella) was a three-quarter brother to Crabbet’s famous sire Oran.

Riffal, a brown horse foaled 1936, and already a show winner as a yearling. He matured to 16 hands and a quarter inch. Because most of his Hanstead career took place during the war years, his opportunity at stud was limited, but true to the Hanstead pattern, he achieved much with his few foals, which included Oran. In 1947 Mrs. Maclean bought him and the young mare Carlina for her stud in Australia. Riffal became a major influence there.

Salinas (Grey Owl x Shamnar)

Suvorov (Rissalix x Razina), as a son of Hanstead’s most influential foundation mare and stallion, might have proven an important sire, but he was not fertile.

Sala (Grey Owl x Hama) was grey, sold to the New South Wales Department of Agriculture and exported to Australia in 1949. There he sired more than 100 foals, and has perpetuated the rare male line of Crabbet foundation sire Feysul.

*Count Dorsaz (Rissalix x Shamnar)

*Count Dorsaz (Rissalix x Shamnar) was one of the many Hanstead horses exhibited under saddle. At the Royal International Horse Show he was twice awarded the Winston Churchill Cup for the supreme riding horse. He inherited and passed on a full measure of the Rissalix action. By 1956 he had also won nine first prizes in hand.

General Grant (Raktha x Samsie) carried two crosses to Razina and was typical of what may be thought of as Hanstead type: a deep-bodied horse of quality, good balance and substance, and obvious Arabian character. General Grant was later owned by the Hedleys. He sired many British champions.

Blue Domino (Rissalix x Niseyra) ranks among the most famous horses bred at Hanstead. Although not tracing to Razina, he seems to have had much the same proportions as, for example, General Grant. This stamp of horse is also apparent in Rissam, Blue Domino’s grandsire. A dark chestnut color, Blue Domino won acclaim in the show ring as a young horse and sired a long list of internationally influential horses. A 1956 Hanstead ad noted that his “stock are very promising, good movers with good heads.”

*Count Orlando (*Count Dorsaz x Umatella) was the Arab Horse Society’s Junior Male Champion in 1954, and was awarded the Winston Churchill Cup in 1956. He was sold to the United States in 1960.

Count Manilla (*Count Dorsaz x Namilla) represented several generations of Hanstead breeding on both sides of his pedigree. He won first prize stallion under saddle at Roehampton in 1956. Count Manilla was sold to Australia in 1957, where he sired about 80 foals.

Rifaria (Rifari x Meccana, by Riffal) was another horse who stood at Hanstead in the 1950s. He was one of the few outcrosses Gladys Yule introduced.

Iridos (Irex x Rafeena) was a son of one of the two new mares Gladys Yule added to the stud. In 1950 Rafeena arrived with her Irex filly, *Reenexa. She was in foal to Irex again, and produced the grey colt Iridos in 1951.

*Minta was Gladys Yule’s other addition to the stud. A granddaughter of Rissam and Irex, she was less an outcross than an added source of lines already tried in the stud.

Lady Wentworth never had much room for visiting mares, so smaller breeders in England were grateful to Miss Gladys Yule for making available stallions like Rissalix, General Grant, *Count Dorsaz, and Blue Domino to the public.

During the 1930s, 40s, and 50s, Hanstead joined Crabbet and Courthouse in dominating the British show ring. A look at Deirdre Hyde’s 40 Years of British Arab Horse Champions shows nine of the first 40 titles going to horses bred by the Yules. An additional 17 winners had a parent bred at Hanstead. Only four horses (Dargee, Bahram, Sirella, and Celina) were without any Yule-bred ancestors. Many of Crabbet’s winners were sired by Oran or Raktha. And just as Hanstead had sent these two important sires to Crabbet, Hanstead also sent one to Courthouse. This was Champurrado, the first foal Niseyra produced for Lady Yule.

Gladys Yule served as president of the Arab Horse Society in 1949. She was also chairman of the Ponies of Britain Club, helping to preserve Britain’s native pony breeds. She strongly believed in Anglo-Arabs as superior horses for hunting, dressage, or eventing, and continued to breed these alongside her Arabians and Thoroughbreds. She also bred Jersey and Aberdeen Angus cattle.

Early in 1957 an article in the Arab Horse Society News noted that 20 Hanstead Arabs had been sold overseas: four to Australia, 11 to South Africa, three to Holland, and two to Canada. Nor was there any shortage of promising young stock in 1957. The young stallions coming on included the show winners Blue Grotto and Samson, as well as *Little Owl: “Miss Yule has been longing to have a colt foal by Grey Owl, who has produced a long list of fillies through the years, so let us hope Little Owl will develop the presence and character of his magnificent sire.”

Among the young mares and fillies, the late Queen Zenobia’s daughters *Zulima, Zena, and *Princess Zia were admired, of which *Princess Zia was probably the most decorated in the show ring.

When Lady Wentworth died in August of 1957, Gladys Yule remarked “now we can go back to Crabbet.” But it was not to be. Within a few weeks she had also died. The estate taxes owed were reported in the Daily Mail to be in excess of 3 million pounds under headline “Last of a vanishing 20,000,000 pound fortune may go in taxes.” It was necessary to reduce the stud. The single largest group sold, consisting of about 14 head, went to Bazy Tankersley’s Al-Marah Arabians in the United States before the year was out. At the same time, Mrs. Tankersley purchased a similarly large group from Lady Wentworth’s executors, making it the single largest importation to arrive in America up to that time.

Miss Wolf sent a letter published in the Arab Horse Society News for autumn, 1958, explaining the situation with the remaining horses:

“I was left options on some Thoroughbreds, Arabs and Anglo-Arabs and therefore I retained in a small way some of the best of each. Since then foals have increased in number and it will not be long before there are more foals on the way and so I have felt that I must sell some more horses… These are to be sold by auction on November 27th here at Hanstead when all the saddlery, stable and stud equipment are sold…. I shall be moving to Aylesbury…. All the horses and the stud I retain are the property of the Exors. of the late Miss G.M. Yule and so for the time being I shall be the Manager.”

Many breeders in England established or added to their studs at the 1958 Hanstead auction. *Count Dorsaz was leased that year to Mrs. Tankersley, who bought him later. He proved an important sire for Al-Marah, and was later joined by *Ranix (a son of Rissalix and out of the Hanstead mare *Iorana).

By 1959 Gladys Yule’s band of 15 broodmares had been reduced to three. Of these Rafeena died the next year at age 20, and Umatella and Azella each produced one Blue Domino filly for Miss Wolf before moving on to new homes.

Finally just Blue Domino was left. He lived out his days surrounded by Miss Wolf’s Thoroughbreds and Anglo-Arabs, succumbing to intestinal cancer in October of 1966. But by then Hanstead breeding was firmly established in Arabian studbooks around the world.


Rosemary Archer, Colin Pearson, and Cecil Covey, The Crabbet Arabian Stud, Its History and Influence

Deirde Hyde, 40 Years of British Arab Horse Champions

Erika Schiele, The Arab Horse in Europe, section on Hanstead.

Rosemary Archer, “The Hanstead Stud,” Arabians, September 1984, p. 128.

Michael Bowling, “Razina at the Hanstead Stud” in CMK Record, spring 1991.

The Arab Horse Society News, issues from 1956 to 1960.

Undated clipping from the Daily Mail.

The General Stud Book; stud books of the Arabian Horse Registry of America and Arab Horse Society.

  1. [1]Jack Gannon, “Hanstead Stud,” Arab Horse Society News, spring 1957, p. 10.
  2. [2]The Journal of the Arab Horse Society, article on Hanstead Stud.
  3. [3]Spring 1960 Arab Horse Society News, p. 15.

The GSB Arabians

The GSB Arabians

© 1996 by Robert J. Cadranell
Reprinted from the March-April 1996 issue of Arabian Visions

Look at the bottom of most pre-printed Arabian horse pedigree forms and you will likely find explanations of some standard abbreviations. For example, DB stands for Desert Bred, while PASB stands for Polish Arabian Stud Book, and GSB stands for the General Stud Book. What on earth is a General Stud Book?

Until about 30 years ago, the General Stud Book was a registration authority for Arabian horses in England. It was the stud book cited for the parents of virtually all horses imported from England’s Crabbet Arabian Stud, as well as many horses imported from other studs in England. But why was it called the General Stud Book rather than, for example, the British Stud Book?

The General Stud Book was the world’s first published stud book for any breed of livestock. Before the advent of the GSB, stud books were records kept by individual breeders and were specific to animals in a breeder’s own herd. The new compilation was known as a “general” stud book because it was general to the whole country. The preliminary edition of the GSB appeared in 1791. It was an example of the eighteenth century obsession with assembling enormous compendiums of knowledge, which included Dr. Johnson’s dictionary and the original encyclopædia. The GSB documents “Pedigrees of Race Horses” stretching “From the earliest Accounts” up to the closing date of each successive volume. Its compiler was James Weatherby, whose family continued to issue the GSB after him. Thus it is also known as “Weatherby’s stud book.”

The breed of horse that the GSB defined was the English Thoroughbred. The GSB demonstrates the Thoroughbred’s descent from Oriental sires and dams such as the Darley Arabian, the Leedes Arabian, and the Darcy Yellow Turk.

GSB Arabians in England: Volume XIII of the GSB appeared in 1877. This volume included a new Arabian section to register several horses recently imported to Britain from the desert near Aleppo. The first group, imported by Mr. Sandeman, had arrived in 1874. It included Yataghan and Haidee, sire and dam of *Naomi. The second importation, made by Mr. Chaplin, arrived in 1875. This group included the mare Kesia, carrying an in-utero foal named Kesia II. These early registrations were the beginning of current Arabian horse breeding in the English speaking world. The Arabian section was included in the GSB with the hope that the new imports would, in time, “give a valuable new line of blood from the original source of the English Thoroughbred.”[1]

Volume XIV of the GSB was published in 1881. The Arabian section was expanded several pages by the first importations of Mr. Wilfrid and Lady Anne Blunt, who founded their Crabbet Arabian Stud with desert bred Arabian horses they imported to England in 1878. The Crabbet Stud was to endure so long and to achieve such fame that today “Crabbet” is far better known than the stud book which registered its bloodstock. Crabbet has taken a place alongside Egyptian, Polish, and Spanish as one of the Arabian breed’s major bloodline categories.

The Crabbet horses overshadowed the other animals in the Arabian section of the GSB, even though Crabbet horses were not the first and were never the only ones registered there. There are several reasons for this. First, Crabbet was the single largest importer of GSB registered Arabians: approximately 51 animals from 1878 to 1910, two-thirds of which are still in Arabian pedigrees. Second, the Crabbet horses were imported especially to become breeding stock at the Crabbet Stud – not brought to England as retired officers’ mounts or as curiosities. Third, the Crabbet Stud owned and bred more than a thousand Arabians during a period of over 90 years – so long that it even outlasted the Arabian section of the GSB. Fourth, nearly all the non-Crabbet GSB imports with lines still breeding today come down to us only in combination with Crabbet blood.

The Arabian section of the GSB contained many imported Arabian and other Eastern horses (including a Barb mare named Safed) which either had no registered offspring or whose lines quickly disappeared from the stud book. Other than the Blunt horses, only about a dozen imported GSB foundation animals found their way into modern Arabian pedigrees.

Most of the non-Crabbet GSB foundation animals were owned by, or otherwise connected to, the stud of the Hon. Miss Etheldred Dillon. She began her program with the 1880 importation of El Emir, and later acquired some horses from Crabbet. Also among Miss Dillon’s foundation stock were the mares Ishtar, Kesia II, and *Shabaka (Mameluke x Kesia II), as well as the stallion Maidan. Miss Dillon had Rev. Vidal’s mare *Naomi on her farm – and Vidal’s use of *Kismet as a sire introduced that horse to modern pedigrees.

At the turn of the century Miss Dillon’s program was winding down; other breeders introduced the last four horses. Mootrub is in pedigrees through two foals: a colt out of a mare of Dillon+Crabbet breeding, and a filly out of Shakra. Dwarka stood at stud for the Prince of Wales (later Duke of Windsor), who bred him to the Crabbet mares Amida and Rangha. And Skowronek, imported last, is perhaps the most famous of all the GSB founders. After Lady Anne Blunt died in 1917, her husband and her daughter, Judith Blunt-Lytton (Lady Wentworth), disputed the ownership of the Crabbet Stud. The dispute went to court, and in 1920 Lady Wentworth emerged as the stud’s sole owner. Also in early 1920 she purchased the white stallion Skowronek, imported several years earlier from Poland. Skowronek quickly became one of Crabbet’s chief sires.

Skowronek was hardly the last Arabian imported to England, but he was the latest import to gain access to the GSB. In 1913 the Jersey act had closed the GSB to imported Thoroughbreds unless their pedigrees traced in all lines to horses entered in previous volumes. A 1921 decision did the same thing for the Arabian section. Thus a “GSB Arabian” became an Arabian from a clearly defined, closed pedigree group. Britain’s Arab Horse Society (AHS) was founded in 1918, and published its first stud book in 1919. This was likely a factor in the decision of Weatherbys not to enter any more new Arabian imports – the GSB’s Arabian gene pool was sufficiently large to continue indefinitely. Why not let the new stud book of the Arab Horse Society register future imported Arabians?

Thus for the next 45 years, England had two stud book authorities registering Arabian horses. Weatherbys continued to register those Arabian bloodlines “eligible for GSB” – and there was strong incentive for British breeders to maintain GSB registration. For one, the export market was crucial to them. Often countries overseas might not have an Arabian stud book, but probably did have a stud book for Thoroughbreds. An Arabian with a GSB certificate could be entered in virtually any Thoroughbred stud book in the world.

From the first, the stud book of the Arab Horse Society allowed entry of new desert imports. As a registration authority for Arabian horses, it also entered imports from Poland, the United States, the U.S.S.R., and elsewhere. Most of the GSB Arabian foals carried “dual registration,” entered in both GSB and AHS. If a GSB foal did not appear in AHS, it was often because it had been exported young or died young.

The GSB continued to register Arabian foals until Weatherbys announced that as of January 1, 1965, the Arabian section would be discontinued. Rosemary Archer, owner and breeder of GSB Arabians since the late 1940s, described the response to this.

“…a strong representation was made by The Arab Horse Society asking [Weatherbys] to retain the Arabian section. . . . [Weatherbys] intimated that if the Arab horses registered in the G.S.B. had been used for crossing with Thoroughbreds to produce racehorses, they might have been interested in retaining the Arabian Section but there was no question of a reservoir of pure Arab blood being kept for possible future use…. ‘it is sad,’ Weatherby’s spokesman conceded, ‘after so many years, but there it is.’ “[2]

Thus the stud book of the Arab Horse Society was left as the Arabian breed’s official registration authority in Great Britain, and GSB Arabian foals born 1965 and later did not carry Weatherbys registration. Nonetheless several breeders in Britain continued to breed GSB Arabians, whether “straight Crabbet” or carrying crosses to the non-Crabbet GSB founders. Beginning in the mid 1970s, imports of Arabians from around the world flowed to Britain in increasing numbers. While breeders in England today have a much wider selection of bloodlines, this has also meant that the older English bloodlines, including the “straight Crabbet” and GSB horses, are in danger of being crossed out of existence. As a means of fostering the breeding of these horses, A Catalogue of Arabians in Great Britain Descending from G.S.B. Registered Horses appeared in the early 1990s.

GSB Arabians in America have been present almost from the first. The earliest imported mare with descent in registered Arabian pedigrees was *Naomi. In the years before World War II when American breeders were laying in their foundation stock, GSB imports outnumbered those from any other source, including Poland, Egypt, and the desert itself. Into the 1930s, foals theoretically “eligible for GSB” if sent back to England made up fully one third of all U.S. registrations. Of the remaining two-thirds, most carried substantial Crabbet or other GSB ancestry.

The list of the GSB imports brought to America prior to World War II is a familiar litany. It is impossible to imagine traditional American Arabian breeding without these horses. The Roger Selby imports included *Raffles, *Indaia, *Rose of France, *Kareyma, and *Rifala. The W.K. Kellogg imports included *Raseyn, *Ferda, *Nasik, *Rifla, *Rossana, *Ferdin, *Rissletta, and *Crabbet Sura. W.R. Brown’s group contained *Berk, *Rijma, *Ramim, *Rokhsa, and *Simawa, among others. F.L. Ames brought in *Astraled, *Narda II, and *Noam, while Homer Davenport imported *Abu Zeyd. Spencer Borden brought us *Rose of Sharon, *Ghazala, *Shabaka, and *Rodan. Counting in-utero foals, there were 111 pre-World War II GSB imports in all, of which some 77 are still in pedigrees.

Our stud book shows another 28 GSB horses brought in between 1947 and 1956. These include *Ranix, *Silver Crystal, *Rithan, *Shamadan, *Sun Royal, *Serafix, and *Electric Storm.

In 1957 Lady Wentworth died, and so did her rival breeder Miss Gladys Yule of the Hanstead Stud. The heirs of both women were forced to reduce the herds. This enabled Bazy Tankersley of Al-Marah Arabians to assemble the largest single importation of Arabians to America up to that time. Among the horses were *Salinas, *Silwara, *Thorayya, *Little Owl, *Royal Diamond, and *Silwa. The stallion *Count Dorsaz joined them a year later. From 1957 to 1959 about 61 GSB horses, including the Al-Marah shipment, were imported by various parties.

Importations of GSB horses continued through the next several years, then tapered off toward the end of the 1960s, for a total of some 53 imports for that decade. The early 1960s brought *Nizzam, *Silver Vanity, *Oran van Crabbet, and *Silver Drift. The Lewisfield imports of the same era included *Fire Opal, *Touch of Magic, and *Lewisfield Magic. In 1966 came Bazy Tankersley’s *Royal Dominion.

Only 13 GSB horses were imported in the 1970s, of which one was *RAS Indian Silver. However the 1980s saw a renewal of interest in GSB horses, with 43 more imports. These included *Silvern Magic, *Sa’ika, *Achim NSB, *Odessa NSB, *Seffer, *Rimmon, and *Seyad.

Importations of all Arabians have slowed in the 1990s. To this writer’s knowledge, thus far the only registered import of GSB pedigree is *Star Reflection, imported in 1995.

Counting *Star Reflection, the Arabian Horse Registry of America has registered 311 imported horses of GSB pedigree. But another approximately 2,000 registrations are of GSB horses bred in the United States. Sixty years ago “GSB eligible” Arabians were about a third of all registrations. Now, they constitute less than half of one percent. This does not mean they have vanished from the gene pool, because most Arabians in America have some GSB blood somewhere in their pedigrees – and many are 50% or more GSB-derived. But “straight GSB” Arabians have become rare.

For years GSB stallions and their sons dominated the lists of top sires of American show winners. These GSB stallions included *Serafix, Ferseyn, Abu Farwa, Indraff, *Raffles, *Silver Drift, Aarief, *Count Dorsaz, Sureyn, Al-Marah Radames, Rapture, Aaraf, Gulastra, *Silver Vanity, and Al-Marah El Hezzez. But prominent sire lines in a breed can change rapidly. In the last 25 years other sire lines have taken a substantial market share away from the lines of Mesaoud, Mahruss, and Skowronek.

In the 70s and 80s marketing emphasis was placed on horses of “pure” or “straight” national origin. One might think this would have boosted the numbers of GSB and straight Crabbet Arabians. Paradoxically, it worked to their disadvantage. Many GSB mares were outcrossed to stallions of Polish and Egyptian lines. The outcrosses no doubt produced lovely horses, as such crosses did in past decades, but registrations of GSB foals in America skidded to new lows in the mid-1970s.

In the 1990s, with more Arabian horses and semen flying around the world than ever before, the traditional 20th century distinctions between national breeding groups are breaking down. In the interest of the Arabian breed’s genetic diversity, it makes sense to identify and conserve those living horses from distinctive breeding traditions. Among these are the GSB Arabians and their various subsets. These subsets include, for example, horses tracing entirely to Blunt imports, and horses of Blunt+Skowronek pedigree.

Arabian Visions offers a catalog of the GSB Arabians registered in the United States. It includes a complete pedigree index tracing GSB Arabians imported to America back to the original foundation horses imported to England, and quotes the entries for these horses from the GSB.

1. Quoted from GSB Volume XIV.
2. Quoted from the introduction to A Catalogue of Arabians in Great Britain Descending
from G.S.B. Registered Horses.

The Blunts and Crabbet Stud

An Abbreviated History And Description of the Breeding Program

by Robert J. Cadranell II
revised and copyrighted 1998 by RJ Cadranell II
used by permission of RJ Cadranell II

Countless times writers have referred to the Crabbet Arabian Stud as the most influential privately owned Arabian stud in the world, and rightly so. The story of the Crabbet Stud and its visionary though eccentric founders, Mr. Wilfrid and Lady Anne Blunt, is the subject of many articles and books written over the years. However, few have made any attempt to analyze the breeding program in the era of the Blunts, choosing to focus instead on the more dramatic stories of the acquisition of the foundation animals, the Partition of the stud in 1906, and the famous lawsuit fought after Lady Anne’s death between her husband and daughter. The present article is an attempt to describe the breeding program of the Blunts and the changes it underwent as time passed and their knowledge of the breed increased. Crabbet under their daughter, Judith Blunt-Lytton (Lady Wentworth), deserves an article unto itself.

The Blunts had travelled in Spain, then in 1873 through Turkey and Algeria. Next, they went in 1875 to Egypt and Damascus. They longed to go further east. In November of 1877 they set out for Syria to travel in the Syrian deserts and Mesopotamia, with one further end in mind. If possible, they wanted to purchase a horse of the same strain as the famous Thoroughbred foundation sire the Darley Arabian. On board a ship bound for Alexandretta, they met a gentleman who recommended they first go to Aleppo to confer with Mr. James Skene, the British Consul. This they did. Snowstorms detained them in Aleppo, but the extended stay with Skene gave birth to another idea. Lady Anne noted in her journal on the 14th of December, 1877 that

“We have made a plan … of importing some of the best Anazeh blood to England and breeding it pure there … it would be an interesting and useful thing to do and I should like much to try it.” [1]

Mr. Blunt later wrote that they owed the idea to Skene.[2]

When the storms cleared the Blunts set out on the journey recorded in The Bedouin Tribes of the Euphrates. They bought horses themselves, and Skene bought some as well. These first horses they imported to England from 1878-9, and they are listed in Table A.[3]

TABLE A: Desert-bred imports to Crabbet Stud, 1878-9
Name Strain
Those with Al Khamsa descent:
BASILISK Saqlawiyah
DAJANIA Kuhaylah
JERBOA Mu’niqiyah, on both sides of pedigree
KARS Saqlawi
QUEEN OF SHEBA Abayyah, sire a Mu’niqi
Those which did not breed on within Al Khamsa:
DAMASK ROSE Saqlawiyah
DARLEY Kuhaylan-Ras-al-Fidawi
HAGAR Kuhaylah
SHERIFA Hamdaniyah
WILD THYME same as Darley, above

Some of these first horses were similar to Thoroughbreds in type, and since one of Blunt’s early aims was to reintroduce Arabian blood into the English Thoroughbred, these were a logical selection. One Jockey Club member pronounced the early Crabbet stock “thoroughbreds in miniature,” much to the delight of Mr. Blunt.[4] Skene erroneously informed the Blunts that the Darley Arabian had been a Kuhaylan-Ras-al-Fidawi, so they had imported two animals of this strain. In actuality, he was a Mu’niki.[5]

The Blunts made further travels in Arabia. The next importation consisted of six mares, in 1881 (Table B). In 1884 four new stallions followed, enumerated in Table C. The first three listed of these stallions had been owned in India for racing following their export from Arabia. The animals in Tables A-C constitute the breeding stock of what amounts to the first phase of the Crabbet breeding program, 1879-1884.

This program the Blunts aimed at producing horses that might one day compete with Thoroughbreds on the English turf. As Wilfrid Blunt outlined it,

“the assumption on which the whole experiment has been based has been of course that stock foaled in this country would, by the action of the English climate, combined with good feeding, increase in size, and probably also in speed. …”[6]

To determine if such were the case, Wilfrid Blunt persuaded the Jockey Club to hold an Arab race at Newmarket in 1884. The results were inconclusive, but the Blunts came to abandon the idea of rejuvenating the Thoroughbred. Many years later Blunt summarized his conversion, writing

“I was on wrong lines in breeding Arabs for speed, and not for those more valuable qualities in which their true excellence lies. Had I continued with my original purpose, I should have lost time and money, and probably have also spoiled my breed, producing stock taller perhaps and speedier, but with the same defects found in the English thoroughbred.”[7]

In another place we find,

“The Crabbet Park Stud… is carried on on strict Arabian principles, and as there is no attempt at increasing the height of the stock, the Kehailan type has been well preserved.”[8]

Additional comments of Mr Blunt on the purpose of the Crabbet Stud run,

“It was the conviction that this wonderful breed of horse was threatened with extinction in its native home that led me… to make the attempt you now see carried out at Crabbet of rescuing at least a fraction of the race and preserving it in all its purity in England. This was my first and most important object—not to improve the breed—for it really needs no improvement—but to keep it pure; pure not only in blood, but in type also, to preserve it carefully from deterioration in shape, in temper, in hardihood, and from departure from those special characteristics of beauty which are peculiar to the ancient race.”[9]

It is unfortunate that the two major reference works that the Blunts authored, The Bedouin Tribes of the Euphrates (1879) and A Pilgrimage to Nejd (1881), were written while they themselves had just begun to familiarize themselves with the Arabian horse. While both are valuable books filled with solid material, they could not possibly contain the experience and insights that the Blunts later gained through forty years of breeding and studying the Arabian. Lady Anne did, however, finish an authoritative work on the Arabian horse near the end of her life. This “Book of Fragments,” as she referred to it, she willed to her daughter Judith, who also inherited the barony of Wentworth at her mother’s death. Portions of this “Book of Fragments” supposedly appear in Lady Wentworth’s Authentic Arabian Horse, but it is difficult to distinguish Lady Anne’s voice from her daughter’s.

TABLE B: Desert bred imports to Crabbet Stud, 1881
Name Strain
Those with Al Khamsa descent:
RODANIA Kuhaylah
Those which did not breed on within Al Khamsa:
CANORA Kuhaylah
DAHMA Dahmah
JEDRANIA Saqlawiyah
MESHURA Saqlawiyah; sire a Mu’niqi
ZEFIFIA Kubayshah

TABLE C: Desert bred imports of 1884.

Those with Al Khamsa descent:

HADBAN PROXIMO   Hadban Kuhalan, sire a Mu’niqi   Those which did not breed on within Al Khamsa:   RATAPLAN ABEYAN Dahman Abayyan TABLE D: Last desert bred imports, 1888-91.

Those with Al Khamsa descent:

AZREK FERIDA Saqlawi Mu’niqiyah   Those which did not breed on within Al Khamsa:   ASHGAR JILFA Saqlawi Jilfah TABLE E: Horses bred in Egypt and imported to Crabbet:   1891 KHATILA MERZUK MESAOUD SAFRA SOBHA   1892 SHAHWAN   1897 BADIA BINT HELWA BINT NURA FULANA JOHARA MAHRUSS 1898 ABU KHASHEB JELLABIEH KASIDA MAKBULA   1904 FEYSUL IBN YASHMAK

The final desert bred horses to join the Crabbet program are listed in Table D. The foal crops of 1880-1891 were produced almost entirely from breeding imported desert bred mares, their daughters, and granddaughters to imported stallions. The only exceptions are about eight foals that the Crabbet bred stallions Roala (Kars/Rodania) and Jeroboam (Pharaoh/Jerboa) sired.

In the first decade of breeding at Crabbet, the Blunts culled many of the original mare lines they had imported. By 1891, no lines remained from Burning Bush, Damask Rose, Purple Stock, Francolin, Tamarisk, Canora, or Zefifia. The Wild Thyme, Dahma, Jedrania, Jilfa and Hagar families left Crabbet soon after. The Blunts tended to think in terms of mare lines, reflected in their system of naming a foal according to the first letter of its dam’s name. This is also a reflection of the Bedouin practice of handing down the strain names from the dam. Certain of the imported mares did not meet the Blunts’ standards. The Blunts were unable to verify the purity of some to their satisfaction, so these were sold along with any progeny. Other mares were barren. Others did not produce the quality that the Blunts desired. In 1904 Wilfrid Blunt stated,

“the produce of certain imported mares, however good individually these were, will become eliminated from the stud and it will be idle out of sentiment to retain them. It is better such strains should be lost when after three generations they have failed to produce a sire of the first class.”

In this way the Sherifa line eventually died out as well. Nineteen years after her importation, her descent had still “not yet produced a first class colt.”[10] Similarly, the 1917 Crabbet catalogue records that the Meshura family had dwindled to one mare. The Blunts never used a stallion of the Meshura family. Although the Ferida family was well represented numerically in the 1917 catalog, it too gave no sires to the stud in the time of the Blunts. The desert mares still represented at Crabbet at the end of Lady Anne’s life were Basilisk, Jerboa, Dajania, Queen of Sheba, Meshura, Rodania, and Ferida. However, the Jerboa line had died out in tail-female.

The Blunts also eliminated many of the original stallion lines. Although Darley, Abeyan, Rataplan, and Ashgar all sired foals at Crabbet, their lines did not breed into the 20th century at that stud. Neither did Proximo’s, apparently. Kars, Pharaoh, Hadban, and Azrek were still represented at the end of the Blunt period of breeding.

1891 was the last year in which the Blunts’ foals were exclusively descended from their own desert imports. The year 1892 marked a transition. his foal crop included the last foals that Azrek (the last desert bred stallion used at Crabbet) sired for them, and the first foals from stallions and mares they had brought from Ali Pasha Sherif in Egypt.

The Ali Pasha horses had certain intangible qualities that led to another reorganization of the breeding program at Crabbet. “I don’t know what it is, or rather I don’t know how to put into words that indescribable air of distinction which marks the horses and mares of Ali Pasha Sherif’s…”[11] Lady Anne commented. Table E summarizes the Ali Pasha horses imported to Crabbet from Egypt.

Merzuk and Mesaoud had shared the 1892 foal crop with Azrek, but 1893 to 1901 saw the imported Ali Pasha horses dominate the breeding program. The only stallion used in this period not bred by Ali Pasha was Ahmar (Azrek/Queen of Sheba), who got roughly 19 foals. This is in sharp contrast with the total sired by the Ali Pasha stallions Mesaoud, Shahwan, and Mahruss in those years, which was something in excess of 90.

This Ali Pasha blood quickly permeated the Crabbet stock. The 1901 Crabbet Stud catalogue lists 81 horses. The average level of Ali Pasha blood in the herd at that time was 53%, indicating that in just ten years the Blunts had placed the Ali Pasha horses on an equal footing with their own desert imports.

In 1897 the Blunts decided they would add no further new blood to Crabbet.[12] This decision manifested itself in their bringing two Mesaoud sons into the stallion battery in 1901, Seyal and Rejeb. In over 20 years of breeding at Crabbet, only three home bred stallions had preceded them. The foal crop of 1902, therefore, marks the beginning of the final phase of the Blunt breeding program at Crabbet.

In the 1902 foal crop, Mesaoud presented his usual high quality foals, but the Blunts exported Rejeb to Japan in 1901, before any of his foals were on the ground. Seyal remained at Crabbet for several more years. Lady Anne seems to have preferred him to Rejeb; she wrote of Seyal “we could not do better except for colour and must risk some greys I suppose.”

Seyal was the last grey stallion the Blunts used at Crabbet to any extent. The only others had been Azrek and Shahwan (the imported grey colt Faris, out of Francolin, was also used sparingly). Of Shahwan Lady Anne wrote, “we can’t get his like again and would not part at all with him were he not grey.”[13]

This aspect may have also been a factor in the sale of Azrek to South Africa. Wilfrid Blunt considered Azrek the best imported sire up to that time, and only Mesaoud later surpassed him.[14] Lady Anne deeply regretted the sale of Azrek, but the ownership of his get consoled her to an extent. The difficulty with greys was that they did not sell as easily as bays and chestnuts. The Blunts constantly guarded against becoming overstocked, relying heavily on the export market as well as sales in England.

Seyal had just four seasons at Crabbet, during which the Blunts bred him, with one exception, only to grey mares. He got around 17 foals. In 1903 one of these grey mares, Bukra, produced a bay Seyal colt. This was Berk, whom Lady Anne ecstatically described as a yearling: “the sight of all was Berk lunged, as his action is magnificent—he was a perfect picture in motion…”[15] With a bay son to replace him, the Blunts sold Seyal that same year to India.

The stallions the Blunts used in their final phase (foal crops of 1902-20) were again imported horses of Ali Pasha stock, and home bred horses combining their own desert breeding with that of Ali Pasha. The one exception was Nejran (Azrek/Nefisa). The Blunts had sold Nejran as a two-year-old in 1893, repurchasing him in 1901. He stood for three seasons, getting about twelve foals before his sale to Australia in 1904. Nejran was the last stallion used at Crabbet who traced exclusively to their own desert stock, following the export of Ahmar to Java in 1901.

The choice of stallions of the lines listed above raised the level of Ali Pasha blood in the herd. The 1917 Crabbet catalogue lists 81 horses. At this point the average level of Ali Pasha blood was 57%. The increase over the 1901 percentage is not as much as one might expect, yet the figure demonstrates that the Ali Pasha blood did come to edge out the “Blunt” blood slightly. However, one must guard against taking the extreme view that the Blunts no longer valued their own desert selections. The level of representation of this blood was still 43%.

Of the Ali Pasha mares, the 1917 catalog details that no descendants remained from the families of Khatila, Badia, Safra, Fulana, Johara, or Jellabieh. However, the blood of the families of Sobha, Bint Helwa, Bint Nura, Makbula and her daughter Kasida, ran strong in the herd, with all but the latter having provided sires to the stud.

Of the imported Ali Pasha stallions, all but Abu Khasheb had progeny in the 1917 catalogue. Shahwan’s line, however, descended only through his grandson Ibn Yashmak, a son of his Egyptian born daughter Yashmak. His English born daughters Shohba (/Shelfa) and Reshmeh (/Rose of Sharon) were in the Crabbet broodmare band for a time, but the lines did not continue.

The imported stallions the Blunts used from 1901 to 1919, their final breeding years, were Mesaoud, Feysul, and Ibn Yashmak, getting between them in this period roughly 54 foals. The Crabbet bred stallions were first Rejeb, Seyal, and Nejran, as described above, then:

Name Sire/Dam Stood No. Get
Daoud Mesaoud/Bint Nura 1902-16 30
Narkise Mesaoud/Nefisa 1904 4
Astraled Mesaoud/Queen of Sheba 1904-09 24
Harb Mesaoud/Bint Helwa 1905-06 8
Rijm Mahruss/ Rose of Sharon 1906-13 26
Berk Seyal/Bukra 1907-16 27
Rustem Astraled/Ridaa 1911-18 12
Razaz Astraled/Rose of Hind 1913-15 6
Nasik Rijm/Narghileh 1914-17 11
Sotamm Astraled/Selma 1914-18 12

Following Lady Anne’s death at the end of 1917, Blunt bred a few foals from two additional stallions, and Lady Wentworth, who had repurchased Nadir (Mesaoud/Nefisa) from George Ruxton, bred him to a couple of the mares she had at Crabbet.

These Nadir foals were born in 1920, the year that the courts settled the lawsuit in Lady Wentworth’s favor. Wilfrid retained a few geldings as well as his favorite stallion Rustem and his 21-year-old riding mare Abla (Mesaoud/Asfura).

Lady Wentworth took charge of the rest of the stud. By the end of the year the stock had altered considerably since her mother’s death. Debts had forced Wilfrid to sell a large number of animals, and Lady Wentworth sold another large draft to the Royal Agricultural Society in Egypt, which included the stallions Razaz and Sotamm, as well as Ibn Yashmak. Of the stallions in the above table, the only one still at Crabbet at the end of 1920 was Nasik.

One odd aspect of the management at Crabbet was that the Blunts sold many of their best foundation stallions just as they were making important contributions to the herd. They regretted the sales of Azrek, Pharaoh, Hadban, Merzuk, and Mahruss at the time of sale and especially later, as their stock matured.

The influence of the Crabbet horses on current Al Khamsa stock is significant. Twenty-three Crabbet horses imported to America have bred on in Al Khamsa lines. An additional six are represented through animals imported from Egypt, a result of Lady Wentworth’s sale in 1920.

Al Khamsa bloodlines also contain descent from another desert bred stallion that Lady Anne owned. He was not, however, a part of the Crabbet breeding program. This was Saadun, a horse she brought from Arabia to her stud in Egypt in 1911. This breeding concern, the Sheykh Obeyd Stud, was located on the property of the same name outside of Cairo in Egypt. The Blunts had bought this land in 1882, later adding to the original 50 acre holding through the purchase of adjoining tracts. Some years later it became their annual winter home, following numerous improvements. The number of Arabians they kept here never approached that at Crabbet, and it served as temporary stabling for a few desert horses and all of their purcheses in Egypt awaiting shipment to England.

However, a number of horses never went to England, remaining as foundation stock for the Sheykh Obeyd Stud. There are grounds to support the argument that Sheykh Obeyd was a Stud in its own right, sharing some bloodlines with Crabbet, but a separate entity. The foundation stock descended mainly rom Ali Pasha Sherif and Abbas Pasha bloodlines, but also included a Bahraini mare that had been a gift to the Khedive of Egypt, from whom Lady Anne had purchased her, and several animals she had imported herself directly from Arabia in 1911 and 1913.

After Lady Anne died, Blunt gave the Public Trustee permission to sell the Sheykh Obeyd horses. Lady Wentworth records that most of them went to Captain Trouncer, acting on behalf of the Egyptian Horsebreeding Commisssion, while the rest went to a Greek by the name of Casdugli. A number of Sheykh Obeyd horses found their way into pedigrees influencing current Al Khamsa stock.

The horses of the Blunts at Crabbet and Sheykh Obeyd, through importation directly to America from England or through Egypt, provided an important “building block” for Al Khamsa.

  1. [1]Lady Anne Blunt, quoted in Archer, Pearson, Covey, The Crabbet Arabian Stud, Its History and Influence, (Gloucestershire: Heriot, 1978), pps. 32-33.
  2. [2]Archer, p. 34.
  3. [3]Also consulted: Weatherby’s General Stud Book.
  4. [4]Wilfrid S. Blunt, “The Forthcoming Arab Race at Newmarket,” in the Nineteenth Century, 1884. Reprinted in George H. Conn, The Arabian Horse in Fact, Fantasy, and Fiction, 4th ed. (New York: Arco, 1973), p. 371.
  5. [5]Archer, p. 35.
  6. [6]W. S. Blunt, reprinted in Conn, p. 373.
  7. [7]W. S. Blunt, Gordon at Kharoum, (London, 1912), pps. 263-5, quoted in Carl Raswan, The Raswan Index, (Mexico, 1957), I, p. 53, entry No. 847.
  8. [8] W.S.Blunt, “The Arabian,” Encyclopaedia of Sport, (Lawrence & Buller, 1900), reprinted in Margaret Greely, Arabian Exodus, 2nd ed. (London: Allen, 1976), p. 218.
  9. [9]W. S. Blunt, speech made 5 July, 1902, quoted in R.S.Summerhays, The Arabian Horse, 1976 ed. (California), p. 55.
  10. [10]W. S. Blunt, quoted in Archer, pps. 226-7.
  11. [11]Lady Anne Blunt, 1891, quoted in Judith Forbis, The Classic Arabian Horse, (New York: Liveright, 1976), p. 187.
  12. [12]Archer. p. 94.
  13. [13]Lady Anne Blunt, quoted in Archer, pps. 70-1.
  14. [14]W. S. Blunt, quoted in Archer, p. 227.
  15. [15]Lady Anne Blunt, quoted in Archer, p. 126.

The Eternal Fascinators: Ali Pasha Sherif, Lady Anne Blunt, and Sheykh Obeyd Garden

Revised January 1998
Copyright by R.J.Cadranell
Used by permission of RJ Cadranell

Digging For Gold In The Raswan Index

Most Arabian horses descend to greater or lesser extent from the Arabian horse collection of Ali Pasha Sherif (d. 1897) of Egypt. Writers treat this collection of horses with awe and respect. The best of the horses still stand as examples of classic Arabians.

Crabbet Stud co-founder Lady Anne Blunt (1837-1917) seems to have made the greatest effort to acquire representatives of Ali Pasha breeding as his collection began to disperse in the last decade of the nineteenth century. On March 26, 1897 she and her 24 year old daughter Judith (later Lady Wentworth) attended the collection’s second and final auction sale. Also with Lady Anne was her sais, Mutlak, a former employee of Ali Pasha’s. Her published Journals describe the event:

“With Judith 7. 50 train, and Mutlak to sale of remnant of A.P.S. stud at the Serai. Did not begin till long after 9, the hour on bills, Aziz brought out first only Lb bid taken back. Then 2 year filly B.B. Azz grey fetched LBE 29. Ibn Johara 32, Ibn Zarifa Saghir 27, do Kebir 26, Ibn Bint Nura Saghir 56, do Kebir 43, Ibn B. Jellabieh Feysul 55, Ibn Bint Nura es Shakra 44, Ibn Makbula 63, Ibn Aziz Saghir 60). Johara B. Helwa (Seglawieh) 80, B. Horra and foal 125, B. Nura es Shakra 106. B. Makbula 255. Of these I bid for the grey 3 yr. Ibn Johara 31 – splendid colt but has been ill, severe cold (regret I did not go to 35). I bought B. Horra and foal and B. Nura es Shakra (regret I did not buy for 55 the ch. Ibn B. Jell. Feysul 4 years very beautiful—feared to add to number of stallions as we have enough). Sent Mutlak home with the 2 mares and foal, am delighted with them…”

Many of these horses were lost to Arabian horse breeding. Egypt’s first published stud book did not appear for more than fifty years after this sale, so details of these lost horses are available to us through scattered notes in Lady Anne Blunt’s Journals and stud books and also The Raswan Index. While the Index material on the Ali Pasha pedigrees is often difficult to follow and seems to come from secondary and tertiary sources, the Index is in general surprisingly clear about the horses going through this sale. Raswan’s information includes colors, foaling dates, and parents of the sale horses.

Internal evidence suggests that Raswan saw one of the bills which Lady Anne Blunt mentions as having been issued prior to the sale. He might have seen one during the time he spent with Lady Wentworth in 1926. He might have found one in Egypt, perhaps as part of the library of Prince Mohammed Ali to which Raswan also had access. The Index contains a number of alternative spellings of the names of the horses going through the sale. These transliterations use a system entirely different from those Raswan and Lady Anne Blunt used. They are consistent with themselves, suggesting that Raswan drew them from a single source. Certain spellings suggest that the original writer spoke French. For example, the name “Helwa” (“sweet” in Arabic) is rendered “Heloua,” the use of “oua” for “w” being typically French. “Shakra” (Arabic for “chestnut”) appears as “Chakra,” also a French spelling.

Raswan’s information about the horses going through the sale is in general agreement with Lady Anne Blunt’s. Using the two sources, it is possible to reconstruct a sale catalog:

  • 1. Aziz was a chestnut Dahman Shahwan stallion Lady Anne Blunt first saw as a four-year-old in November of 1880, making Aziz about 21 at the time of the sale. He was a principal sire for Ali Pasha, and Lady Anne Blunt came to own many of his get: Mesaoud GSB, Antar, Jamil, Johara GSB, Bint Helwa GSB, Bint Nura GSB, Bint Bint Jamila el Kebira, Bint Fereya, Badia GSB, Bint Horra, Kerima, Aziza (1900), and Khatila GSB. (1) Aziz died in 1889. (Blunt quoted in Pearson/Mol p. 137).
  • 2. Bint Bint Azz eventually found her way to Lady Anne Blunt’s stables at Sheykh Obeyd Garden near Cairo. She was entered as No. 23 in the Sheykh Obeyd Stud Book, renamed “Azz,” and described there as a white Dahmah Shahwaniyah mare foaled in 1895 or 96, by Ibn Nura and out of Bint Azz. Index entries 1415 and 1067 give variant spelling of her name “Bent Bent Ezz.” Entered in GSB as “Azz.”
  • 3. Ibn Johara is described in Index entry 3998 as an 1894 grey stallion out of Johara (q.v.) and by “Ibn Mahroussa I.” Entry 4005 explains that “Ibn Mahroussa I” is the grey stallion more often known as Mahruss. The variant name and numerical designation appear to be Raswan’s own. Lady Anne’s Journal entry for January 22, 1902 mentions “the grey horse (now 7 years old) by Mahruss out of Johara” then owned by Ahmed Fathi and his son Mohammed Fathi. This is apparently Ibn Johara.
  • 4. and 5. Ibn Zarifa Saghir and Ibn Zarifa Kebir appear to be the sons of a mare named Zarifa (“the graceful”), as their names imply (“the younger son of the graceful mare” and “the elder son of the graceful mare” respectively). Index entries 4040 and 4041, as well as 11242 and 11243, interpret the names to mean “the son of the younger Zarifa” and “the son of the elder Zarifa,” which is an unlikely interpretation since the words kebir and saghir take the masculine form and therefore seem to apply to the sons. Raswan says the sons were foaled in 1887 and 1888, were both grey, and both by Aziz.
  • 6. and 7. Ibn Bint Nura Saghir and Ibn Bint Nura Kebir Raswan describes as chestnut stallions foaled 1892 and 1889, by Aziz and out of Bint Nura (index 3964, 3962). Entry 3964 gives variant spelling “Ebn Bent Noura El-Saghir.” Raswan’s attempt to determine which Bint Nura produced these stallions is similar to his treatment of the two Zarifa sons. These two sons of “Bint Nura” were probably out of the same mare. Ali Pasha owned numerous mares known as “Bint Nura” (see below for another). These two easily could have been full brothers to Bint Nura GSB.
  • 8. Ibn Bint Jellabieh Feysul is in the Index ( 3957) as an 1893 chestnut son of Ibn Nura out of Bint Jellabieh Feysul. Date, name, and color agree with the Journal entry describing the auction. Raswan seems to have been unaware that this horse was Feysul GSB. Lady Anne Blunt acquired him “from Seyyid Mohammed Fathi December 7 1898. Mohammed Fathi had bought him from Saleh Bey Sherif, his purchaser at the 2nd Auction held in March 1897 (Lady Anne Blunt quoted in A,P & C, p. 97). The facsimile page of the Sheykh Obeyd stud book reproduced in Upton shows that Lady Anne Blunt originally entered Feysul as the son of “Bint Jellabiet Feysul,” noting that Feysul’s dam was also known as “the lame” (El Argaa) from having broken a front leg. She later changed El Argaa’s other name to read “Bint Bint Jellabiet Feysul,” implying that one of the “Bints” had been left out originally.
  • 9. Ibn Nura es Shakra is in the Index ( 3963) as an 1890 grey stallion by Ibn Sherara (also spelled “Charara”) and out of Bint Nura es Shakra (Bint Nura GSB; see below). Sheykh Obeyd records state that Ibn Bint Nura es Shakra was bred to Johara in 1897. At that time Lady Anne Blunt described him as “Ibn Bint Nura es Shakra (white about 7 years) by Ibn Sherara…” (Pearson/Mol p. 139). In later years a grey stallion named Kaukab from the Ali Pasha collection was active in Egypt. He was the sire of Sahab, the grandsire of the Babson import *Bint Serra. *Bint Serra’s original pedigree, issued in Egypt, describes “Kawkab” as a white son of Ibn Sherara and “Bint Nura.” Lady Anne Blunt owned Sahab and knew his sire. In December of 1907 she referred to Kaukab as “a beautiful white horse about 15 years old” belonging to Ali Pasha’s son Yusef Bey (J&C p. 325). On February 19, 1914 she had a visit from Ibrahim Bey Sherif, another of Ali Pasha’s sons: “he says he has ‘taken’ Kaukab (sire of Sahab) from his brother (Yusef) and will bring that beautiful old horse to show me tomorrow.” The next day “Ibrahim Bey Sherif conducted by Ali the syce appeared on Kaukab, true to promise. That horse is indeed beautiful, light of bone as they say and pasterns rather too long, but what style, the quarter splendid (I wish Sahab had inherited that)…” Kaukab was apparently out of Lady Anne’s own Bint Nura GSB (shot in 1912). One might suspect that Kaukab and Ibn Bint Nura es Shakra were the same horse. However, notes of Lady Anne’s quoted in A, P&C ( p. 113) in connection with Sahab state that Yusef Bey Sherif had Kaukab “given to him by his father before the ‘interdict.’ ” This makes it unlikely Kaukab would have been one of the horses in the auction. If Ibn Bint Nura es Shakra and Kaukab are not the same horse, then it seems they were full brothers of roughly the same age.
  • 10. Ibn Makbula is in the Index (4009) as an 1892 grey stallion. Variant spelling “Ebn Makboula.” Beyond this, his Index entry is particularly garbled. He is listed as being by a sire also named “Ibn Makbula” and out of a mare named “Nasrat.” There is no other “Ibn Makbula” in the Index, and the only “Nasrat” in the Index was a bay Ali Pasha stallion by Aziz and out of Bint Azz. Ali Pasha Sherif owned at least two mares named Makbula, and Ibn Makbula’s name implies he was the son of one of them. Index correction 888 changes the sire to Nasrat and the dam to Makbula. Like Raswan, Lady Anne Blunt says that Ali Pasha Sherif bred a bay stallion named Nasr or Nasrat, by Aziz and out of Bint Azz. She further records that “Nasr died of ‘the eye’ i.e. fell dead one day when being ridden out – this happened on a bridge. His only descendants were Kasida, Manokta and a colt ex Mukbula” ( quoted in Upton, p. 116)

    Kasida ( 1891) and Manokta ( 1894) were foundation mares for Lady Anne Blunt, full sisters by Nasr and out of Makbula GSB. It seems that Ibn Makbula was their brother and the third Nasr foal.

    Ibn Makbula appears in the Journals again, entry of November 20, 1909: “To the house of Mahmud Moharrem Rustem purchaser of … the colt by Nasrat out of Makbula … a handsome wreck, eyes sunk in and looks older than his age (16 to 17 years), is very like Kasida is grey, great bone, strange to say not yet white at that age.”

  • 11. Ibn Azz Saghir is not in the Index, but there is an entry for Ibn Bint Azz As-Saghir ( 3954), with the telltale variant spelling “Ebn Bent Ezz El-Saghir.” The Index lists him as an 1893 grey stallion by Ibn Helwa (or “Ebn Heloua”) out of Bint Azz (“Bent Ezz”). It seems unlikely that Azz herself was producing as late as the 1890’s, but a Bint Azz daughter also went through the sale, so this might be another case of a dropped “Bint.” Index entry 3992 implies that Ibn Helwa was full brother to Bint Helwa GSB and Johara GSB.
  • 12. Johara Bint Helwa has variant spelling “Goharra Bent Heloua” in Index entries 3081 and 4550. She is in GSB as Johara, and Crabbet records state she was also known as “Bint Helwa es Shakra” (the chestnut daughter of the sweet mare). Crabbet records further state that Lady Anne Blunt “[p]urchased [her] from Ibrahim Bey Sherif on April 19, 1897 for Lb 120. Ibrahim Bey had bought her at the Auction on March 26, for LbE 80 (quoted in Upton, p. 100). Johara was the daughter of Aziz and Helwa, and was foaled about 1880, making her one of the first Aziz foals.
  • 13. Bint Horra also has a variant spelling in the Index ( 1456): “Bent Horra.” She was one of the three horses Lady Anne bought at the auction. Bint Horra is No. 9 in the Sheykh Obeyd herd book, and is described there as an 1889 grey mare bred by Ali Pasha, got by Aziz, her dam Horra. Bint Horra died at Sheykh Obeyd in September, 1897.
  • 14. Fortunately, Lady Anne had also bought Bint Horra’s foal, a bay filly by Ibn Nura just 22 days old at the time of the auction. She was known as Bint Bint Horra, and Lady Anne Blunt named her Ghazieh. She is No. 15 in the Sheykh Obeyd herd book, and was the dam of ten foals for Lady Anne.
  • 15. Bint Nura es Shakra was the third horse Lady Anne bought at the auction. She is in GSB as Bint Nura. Index entry 1477 has the somewhat predictable variant spelling “Bent Nour [sic] El Chakra.” She was a chestnut mare foaled in 1885, by Aziz, her dam Bint Nura. Lady Anne, with typical fastidiousness, notes that Bint Nura GSB’s name “should be Bint Bint Nura” ( see Upton, p. 108).
  • 16. Bint Makbula brought the most money of any horse in the sale. She is better known as Kasida GSB. A Frenchman bought her at the auction and imported her to France in April, 1897. He brought her back to Egypt that winter, and Lady Anne Blunt was able to buy her from him in March of 1898 (Upton, p. 116). Kasida was originally named Bint Makbula el Shakra. She was an 1891 chestnut full sister to the grey Manokta (Bint Makbula el Saghira), by Nasr and out of Makbula GSB. Index entry 1467 for “Bint Makbula,” an 1891 chestnut Jallabiyah by Nasrat, appears to refer to Kasida GSB.

Lady Anne Blunt eventually owned seven of the horses sold through this auction. They and her other Ali Pasha horses were combined with bloodlines she and her husband Mr. Wilfrid Blunt had selected in Syria, India, and Arabia. This blending produced the famous Crabbet and Sheykh Obeyd Arabians of the Blunts.

Lady Anne Blunt: Preservation Breeder

Among the traditional questions Arabian horse writers debate is, To what extent did the best qualities of the horses the Blunts bred in later years stem from the Ali Pasha collection as opposed to the original “Blunt” desert stock with which Crabbet started?

Lady Anne Blunt herself repeatedly attributed an “indescribable air of distinction” and “style” ( J&C p. 214) to the “unmistakable Ali Pasha Sherif stamp of horse” ( J&C p. 236). Yet the Blunts did not discard the original Crabbet lines and breed only from Ali Pasha blood. Following the importation of Mesaoud, Merzuk, Khatila, Sobha, and Safra to Crabbet in 1891, most foals represented a combination of Blunt desert lines with Ali Pasha blood. Nejran (Azrek x Nefisa), sold to Australia in 1904, was the last “straight Blunt” (meaning, in this article, a horse tracing only to the Blunt acquisitions bred in the desert) stallion to stand at Crabbet, but the GSB does not record that he covered any straight Blunt mares. Crabbet’s last straight Blunt foal listed in GSB was Bozra’s 1901 effort by Ahmar. This foal died young.

Although Crabbet ceased to produce straight Blunt horses, it did maintain a small pool of unmixed Ali Pasha stock. The 1917 Crabbet catalog (prepared about a year before Lady Anne Blunt’s death) lists three remaining mares (Kantara, *Kerbela, and Hamasa) and three stallions (Feysul, Ibn Yashmak, and Zeydan). In 1916 *Kerbela was bred to Zeydan, Hamasa to Feysul, and Kantara to Ibn Yashmak. The latter was the only productive mating, responsible for the 1917 filly Kesratain. She was Crabbet’s last foal of unmixed Ali Pasha blood and the first since her full sister *Kerbela in 1911. Feysul was destroyed in 1917 and Hamasa (Mesaoud x Bint Helwa) was sold at about the same time. Clearly the production of straight Ali Pasha horses was neither a primary project at Crabbet nor one with the prospect of continuing much longer. Wilfrid Blunt sold *Kerbela to America in 1918, but Lady Wentworth was able to repurchase Kibla (Mesaoud x Makbula GSB). Though scarcely a saint, Lady Wentworth does not deserve the chiding she has received for Crabbet’s not preserving the Ali Pasha Sherif bloodlines in any straight form. ( 2)

At the time the 1916 Crabbet catalog was prepared the situation of the Ali Pasha stock at Sheykh Obeyd was not much better. There, Lady Anne Blunt had two pure Ali Pasha stallions, five broodmares, and three fillies. They are listed in the accompanying box. Journal entry for July 12th, 1916:

Stud notice. Jemla to Sahab. Zarifa to Jamil. N.B. If this fails it will be best to take Saadun for both of them. I try with Sahab & Jamil because the authorities here are so very keen about unmixed Abbas Pasha descent, as to which I know from experience that results are uneven. (J&C p. 377)

The sudden outbreak of straight Ali Pasha breedings in England during the 1916 season is likely not coincidental. The last phrase of the entry is perhaps the best indication of why Lady Anne Blunt did not pursue straight Ali Pasha breeding more vigorously. Despite the qualities which the best of the Ali Pasha horses exhibited, Lady Anne Blunt found the bloodline easier to manage as a breeding influence when outcrossed. In this way the Ali Pasha horses and the Blunt desert lines were able to improve one another.


All of these horses were bred at Sheykh Obeyd with the exception of the three oldest. Jamil was bred by Ali Pasha Sherif. Sahab was bred by a son of Ali Pasha’s. Kerima was bred by Ali Pasha and purchased in-utero by Lady Anne Blunt. Of the above mares, Kerima had been barren for the past eight years and Lady Anne Blunt sold her in 1917. She also sold Faiza in 1917. Lady Anne presented Ghadia, Jamil, and Jemla to the RAS in 1917. Ghadia had been barren for five years, although Lady Anne believed her to be in foal to Jamil at the time she left Sheykh Obeyd (J&C p. 382). The other five were still at Sheykh Obeyd when Lady Anne died at the end of 1917. Feyda produced in 1917 a filly (dead) by Sahab, and Zarifa produced a 1917 colt by Jamil. Zarifa was rebred to Jamil, though Feyda went to Lady Anne’s desert bred stallion Krush.

Jamil Ch 20 Aziz x Bint Jamila
Sahab gr 13 Kaukab x Azz GSB
Kerima ch 19 Aziz x Makbula GSB
Ghadia gr 12 Feysul GSB x*Ghazala
Jemla gr 10 Jamil x *Ghazala
Feyda bay 6 Jamil x Ghazieh
Zarifa gr 5 Sahab x Ghadia
Serra gr yearling Sahab x Jemla
Faiza bay yearling Sahab x Feyda
Falha gr 1916 foal Sahab x Feyda


(1) The abbreviation “GSB” stands for the General Stud Book, in which the Blunt horses imported to or bred in England were registered. When it follows the name of a horse, it indicates the animal was registered in the GSB under that name. This I have tried to do in places where it might be necessary to distinguish it from horses having the same or similar name but not registered in GSB.

(2) Zeydan (Mesaoud x Kasida) was full brother to Kantara. His photo does not indicate he was one of Crabbet’s better efforts, and the “preservation” breeding to *Kerbela is the only record in GSB of his use at stud. Lady Wentworth sold Zeydan to the Egyptian government in 1920.


A,P&C is Archer, Pearson, and Covey’s The Crabbet Arabian Stud, Its History and Influence, Heriot, Cheltenham, 1978.

J&C is Lady Anne Blunt, Journals and Correspondence 1878-1917, ed. Archer & Fleming, Heriot, Cheltenham, 1986.

Pearson/Mol is notes of Lady Anne Blunt’s published in Pearson and Mol’s The Arabian Horse Families of Egypt, Heriot, Cheltenham, 1988.

Upton is notes of Lady Anne Blunt’s published in Peter Upton’s Desert Heritage, Skilton & Shaw, London, 1980.

Photos originally from the Newbuildings Collection of the late Lady Anne Lytton, provided by Michael Bowling.

The Founding of the Crabbet Tradition (Part II)

This entry is part 2 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

Full Steam Ahead: 1899-1906

The 1898 Crabbet foal crop, which had jumped by 10 over that of 1897, marked a new peak in numbers and initiated an era of sustained production. The smallest foal crops at Crabbet would now hover around the pre-1898 record high of 14. In this period the new Ali Pasha Sherif mares were active, and the Mesaoud fillies came into serious production. The Rodania family was clearly established as the most numerous at Crabbet, achieving distinction in the 1906 season as the first to be represented by five breeding mares, even though Rose of Jericho, *Rose of Sharon and Rose Diamond had been sold; Dajania, Basilisk and Meshura were roughly tied for second. On the sire side activity was dominated almost entirely by Mesaoud and his sons although Ahmar and Nejran closed out the Azrek era, Mahruss GSB got one very significant foal and the newly-arrived Feysul sired his most important offspring in his first Crabbet crop. No one sire dominated the stallion battery in any year and the average foals per sire fell slightly to 11.5. The shape Crabbet breeding would take in the future was largely defined in this period, when Daoud, Rabla, *Astraled, Risala, Ajramieh, Rijm, *Berk, Riada, Riyala and Rasim were foaled. The number of Crabbet foals which would influence future breeding rose sharply, perhaps largely because stronger international demand was developing for stock to found stable new programs. The Crabbet foals reported dead in GSB fell to 10% of this era’s 149, and 33 made it into modern pedigrees.

The Blunts worked at maintaining tail-male descent from Azrek; when Ahmar was exported to Java they bought back Nefisa’s Azrek son Nejran and used him for three seasons, but he was to breed on through just one daughter. *Rose of Sharon had also produced a top-class Azrek colt in 1890; this was Rafyk, the foundation sire of Australian Arabian breeding and whose name is extensively repeated at the back of most traditional Australian mare lines. According to the 1924 Crabbet Stud Catalogue Lady Wentworth in her turn meant to reintroduce the Azrek sire line through the double Rafyk grandson Minaret, but if that horse actually reached England nothing came of the venture.

The remaining Ali Pasha Sherif mares proved uncertain producers at Crabbet; in no more than three seasons did as many as five or six of the 10 produce, although a few straggled out to 1910. Astonishingly, the crippled Bint Helwa overcame her broken leg to be the most reliable broodmare of the lot; she shares honors with Rodania as the only Blunt imported mare to leave family branches through three different daughters–hers Hilmyeh, Hamasa and *Ghazala, with the last-named bred by Ali Pasha Sherif but used at Sheykh Obeyd. Ironically this family did not persist at Crabbet though the Sheykh Obeyd and American daughters of *Ghazala, plus *Hazna, *Hamida and *Hilwe, all founded highly influential lines. When *Rose of Sharon went to Spencer Borden in 1905 she was in foal to Bint Helwa’s son Harb and produced *Rodan. That horse was to be the only link to Harb in modern pedigrees but he proved a strong one, siring such mares as Gulnare, Bazrah, Niht, Fath and Fenzileh and leaving a male line through Ghazi.

Makbula GSB left a branch through her daughter Kibla; this became an essentially American family when Kibla’s granddaughter *Namilla and great granddaughters *Kiyama and *Kareyma transplanted the line wholesale to the Selby Stud. Bint Helwa’s elder sister Johara left a small international family. Indirect lines breed on from Makbula’s imported daughter Kasida, Lady Anne Blunt’s favorite riding mare, in the important Egyptian mare sire Kasmeyn; from Fulana in her very handsome son Faraoun, another far back in Austalian mare lines; and from the magnificent Bint Nura GSB who had no fillies to live but produced the imported stallions Abu Khasheb and Mahruss GSB and the Crabbet colt Daoud. Daoud gave his dam indirect mare lines in spades; one Daoud son, Redif, survives in pedigrees through his own influential daughter Bint Ranya.

Mesaoud established his male line more firmly before his 1903 sale to Russian Poland, though not via Daoud; *Astraled, Nejef, Harb and Nadir joined Seyal among the future sire branch founders. *Astraled, half-brother to Ahmar and Asfura, was the last foal of Queen of Sheba, who had become the most highly regarded of the Blunt desert mares. She lived to 25 and produced 10 foals but had only two daughters of record. Queen of Egypt died as a yearling; Asfura’s daughter Ajramieh did establish the family as a respected one that has always been small in numbers. Queen of Sheba has strong indirect influence; besides the Ahmar daughters already named, *Astraled and his sons Rustem, Razaz, Sotamm and Gulastra all were top sires of broodmares. Queen of Sheba’s name is another to be repeated in pedigrees with remarkable frequency, and the most international Mesaoud sire branch, that of *Astraled via Sotamm to Riffal and Oran, was notable for its Queen of Sheba reinforcement. Mesaoud had one major son outside Crabbet; the beautiful Azrek mare Rose Diamond was sold to the Hon. George Savile in 1903 and duly presented him the next year with Lal I Abdar (*Abu Zeyd), another from whom the male line persists.

Two new Ali Pasha Sherif sire lines were established at Crabbet in this phase. Mahruss GSB, chiefly a riding stallion, bred just four Arab mares in England; he sent *Ibn Mahruss to America en utero and got one Crabbet foal: *Rose of Sharon’s mighty son Rijm. That massive chestnut was admired for his scope, presence, freedom of stride and excellence of shoulder, back and loin. Before his sale to Spain Rijm contributed to the Crabbet tradition as sire of the breeding stallions *Nasik, Fakreddin and *Nureddin II; of the widely influential daughters Nessima, Fejr, *Noam, Belka and *Rijma; and of the great early endurance gelding *Crabbet. *Noam and Belka also distinguished themselves under saddle. Feysul came from Sheykh Obeyd with his son Ibn Yashmak late in 1904 and promptly sired the impressively smooth 1906 chestnut Rasim. Rasim served as a riding stallion for his first 11 years and narrowly missed going off as a charger with Neville Lytton in the First World War. His two eldest daughters were key figures of the Kellogg importation and Rasim became extremely influential in the Wentworth years.

The important mares foaled in this era included Ahmar’s Hilmyeh and Namusa, Rish by Nejran, and good daughters of the Mesaoud sons Rejeb, Seyal and Narkise, but if this was the dawn of a new day the sunlight radiated from superb daughters of Mesaoud and *Astraled. Feluka, dam of the Rijm siblings Fejr (to produce *Felestin; *Sulejman’s and Rasim Pierwszy’s dam Fasila; Faris, sire of Rissalix; Ferhan, sire of Indian Gold; and Fayal) and the Australian sire Fakreddin; of the greatest Kellogg foundation mare, *Ferda; and after her sale to H. V. Musgrave Clark of Fasiha, established the Ferida line with a vengeance. If Narghileh was not the greatest Mesaoud daughter then that honor must go to Ridaa’s 1900 filly Risala, dam of Rasim, *Rijma, Rissla, Razieh (Bint Rissala), Risfan (South America) and Rafina, a line foundress in Australia; few sires have ever had the equivalent of an *Astraled and a Risala in the same crop, as Mesaoud did in 1900. Rosemary produced two full sisters, the bay Rabla and brown Riada; the former founded an exuberant family still noted for action horses and the latter died of twisted gut, leaving just one breeding offspring, but that was Rayya, dam of *Raseyn. The records of the handsome grey Kibla, Ajramieh and Hamasa look pale in this company but each founded a major line in the breed.

A case could be made that Daoud and *Astraled, with fewer daughters, were better mare sires than Mesaoud. It must be remembered that all three were extensively used on mares of, by this time, highly selected Crabbet families; and above all that their daughters profited from a coherent, established context in which to operate. Riyala, the most important *Astraled mare of this period, produced Ranya, dam of Bint Ranya and the persistent Spanish influence Razada; Rafeef, sire of Nezma, *Rasafa and the superlative Risslina; the prolific Risama (Bint Riyala); the Hanstead matron Razina, the broodmare of her generation in England, granddam of Indian Magic, *Serafix, *Silver Drift, *Iorana, Bright Shadow, Namilla, Oran, Sala and *Count Dorsaz just to start the list; Ramayana, sold to Poland with Fasila and represented by Polish and Russian families today; Ruellia, who sent a son Riyalan to Australia and then went to Tersk; and Raftan, sire of Naseel, Ariffa and Doonyah. Rokhama by *Astraled bred on through just one daughter but that was *Rokhsa, who founded one of the greatest Maynesboro and Kellogg families.

Partition and The War Years: 1907 – 1918

The first foal crop for the partitioned Crabbet and Newbuildings mares arrived in 1907. Wilfrid Blunt’s chief sires in the Newbuildings half were to be *Astraled, Rijm, Harb, Ibn Yashmak and Rustem; Lady Anne at Crabbet had Feysul, Daoud, *Berk, Razaz, Sotamm and *Nasik (not all these were active as early as 1907). Blunt breeding presents a considerably more complicated picture from this point. Under the terms of partition, Crabbet and Newbuildings mares could be sent to sires standing in the alternate half, and no breeding animal (current or potential) could be sold without approval of the other side. In practice it developed that when Blunt needed money, Newbuildings horses which Lady Anne would be unwilling to see sold appeared on his sales list; and when Lady Anne wished to use a Newbuildings sire she bought or traded for him or one of his sons.

The foals reported dead in GSB for this period fell to just over 8% (14 out of 167) and 54 of the remaining 167 are in modern pedigrees–some of them very prominently indeed. Rodania now reigned supreme; Dajania’s family was a distant second while the Seglawi Meshura and Basilisk lines were fading as Sobha picked up speed. Average number of foals per sire at this period was still about 13. With substantial numbers of mares in production and some of the great sires of its history at their peak of activity, and with the individual geniuses of the two Blunts operating independently from a base of nearly 30 years’ observation of Crabbet breeding trends, it would be surprising if this period did not turn out some of Crabbet’s greatest products. Do not expect to be surprised.

One major sire exported in this period was *Astraled, who went to Lothrop Ames in Massachusetts in 1909; American Arabian breeding was not ready for a sire of this caliber and *Astraled landed in Oregon as a Remount sire, leaving just a handful of foals in New England. *Astraled became a legendary sire of crossbred using horses in his new home only to be called back to the place that had been prepared for him by W.R. Brown in 1923, in time to sire the great Gulastra in his last crop. Note that for the Blunts *Astraled got Riyala, Rustem, Rim and *Ramla from *Rose of Sharon’s daughter Ridaa; the only breeding *Astraled offspring from his early New England years was Kheyra, out of Ridaa’s half-sister Rosa Rugosa; and at Maynesboro Gulastra came from a daughter of Ridaa’s half-brother *Rodan.

It was during the years of partition that *Astraled got his important Crabbet sons, Razaz, Rustem and Sotamm. Rustem remained at Newbuildings where he got Rustnar, *Ferda, Arusa, Rayya and *Simawa. Rayya produced *Raseyn and *Ferda is in a class by herself among the Kellogg matrons, while *Simawa proved one of the best mares of the Maynesboro importation. Lady Anne used Razaz and Sotamm; the former sired important mares while the latter got the Australian mare sire Rief and Kasmeyn, a mare sire in his own right in Egypt (maternal grandsire of *Bint Bint Sabbah and Nazeer just for two), and Naufal who sired other foals beyond Riffal though that was his great success. Riffal left the important sire Oran in England along with the good mares Samsie, Nariffa, Quaker Girl (herself exported to Australia), Rubiana and *Mihrima (Canada); his sons The Chief and *Victory Day II bred on in the Netherlands and Canada respectively while the Riffal influence through his Australian get is incalculable.

*Astraled could have sired no colts and done very well for himself through daughters; his post-partition Newbuildings fillies included Rim and Selima, two of the breed’s dynastic matrons. Rim produced the likes of *Ramim, dam of Rehal and Ramghaza; *Rifla, dam of *Rifda, Rifnas and Shemseh; the ill-fated *Raswan, sire at Crabbet of Ferhan, *Rose of France and Star of the Hills (his only get), “World’s Champion” Raseem, one of the great mare sires of British history, though at Tersk he was surpassed by his daughter Rixalina; Naharin’s dam *Rimini; the Selby import *Rahal; *Rimal, a colt of remarkable beauty, gelded after his Kellogg importation; Rix, sire of *Ashan, *Crown of India, Radiolex and Shimrix; and *Nizzam’s and Niseyra’s sire Rissam. Selima’s noted foals do not match Rim’s for numbers but their influence spread extravagantly; all her breeding offspring were exported but her British influence remained substantial. Shareer, another “World’s Champion,” left Rythal, Rytham, Rythama and Sharima behind when he went to Russia accompanied by his great daughter Rissalma (in fact Rythal already was in Holland and Rytham went along on the Tersk trip but left the tremendously influential Sharfina, his only British foal, at Crabbet en utero). Shareer’s sister Sardhana produced *Crabbet Sura in England and founded a mare line in Poland when she accompanied Rasim, Fasila and Ramayana to Baron Bicker’s stud. Star of the Hills left Starilla to represent her in England (which she did ably through her son Saladin II) when Star traveled to Russia, where she founded one of the most important Tersk families. The Selby colt *Selmian was not used in England – he was sold at age three – but he got Selfra, Selmiana and Ibn Selmian among others.

(Appendix: Minor Pedigree Lines from Imported Blunt Mares)

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

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