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Ancient Presence

Evidence of the domestication of horses emerged in Syria, dating 2000 BC. In an excavation, halters adorned the bones of horses and horses in artistic drawings. In 1330 AD, the first pedigrees recorded referred to the Arabian by name, although there was no mention of strains or types. As time went on, early travelers questioned the crossing of apparently different "breeds" by the people of the Desert. These were not, in fact, different breeds but strains, or families, of the same breed.

Basic among many variations are the Muniqi, Saglawi, Abayyan and Kuhailan, all descending from the Kuhaylan, which means "purebred." Each strain showed distinctive characteristics, no doubt as the result of the individual needs or type preference of the tribe members. Today's Arabian is a product of constant crossing of these strains, as no individual carries the blood of a single, undiluted strain. This is not to say that an Arabian of pure, undiluted, desert blood does not exist. Therein lies one of the major differences in the Straight Egyptian Arabian and those of other bloodlines.

The Straight Egyptian is the blending of strains of pure, undisputed, desert heritage. Though of great significance, the purity of the Egyptian Arabian is not the only reason for their preservation. To delve deeper, we must understand the history of the Egyptian Arabian.

Most Cherished Possession

From the first documentation of the horse in Egypt, they had already established themselves animals of the greatest importance. They were loved, admired, and cherished by the noblest of men and the desert nomad. As history progresses the Prophet Mohamed taught that "every man shall love his horse." Bedouin warriors mounted on their finest Arabian steeds proved to be invincible as Islam's power spread throughout the civilized world. Ahmad Ibn Tuleu, (1193-1250), the extraordinary Mameluke horseman built palatial gardens and a magnificent hippodrome to house his collection of the choicest Arabian horses. Saladin's horses prevented Richard the Lion Heart from conquering Egypt and were hailed by Sir Walter Scott in The Talisman. "They spurned the sand from behind them -- they seemed to devour the desert before them."-Solomon, King of Israel built 40,000 stalls for his Arabian horses.

More recent history of the Egyptian Arabian begins with the Turkish ruler Mohamed Ali the Great, during the time Egypt was a province of the Turkish Empire. Mohamed Ali bore a passion for collecting the most superior horses in all of Arabia. He built palatial stables and used every means to collect the best. Mohamed Ali demanded Arabia's most priceless Desert horses as terms of a peace treaty with Arabia. His collection brought to Egypt, 1,100 of the most beautiful and valuable Arabian horses in all the world.

Inheriting his herd, was his grandson, Abbas Pasha, an extremely methodical man who kept very detailed records of each horse, their pedigrees and heritage. He went to great length to prove the purity of each animal. He had also built an impressive herd of his own, primarily from the horses of the Bedouins. Like his father before him, he used political maneuvers and favors to add to his outstanding herd. The freeing of Feysul Ibn Saud from the Citadel was repaid with 290 mares and a fine collection of stallions. Sadly, upon his death the palace and stables were abandoned and left to ruin. Ali Pasha Cherif bought the cream of the herd, which remained with him in Cairo. Although this love was instilled in his sons who carried on after him, eventually Ali Pashašs herd was dispersed.

Eqyptian Arabians Abroad

A major purchaser at this sale was Lady Anne Blunt, who divided them between her Sheykh Obeyd Stud in Egypt and her Crabbet Stud in England. Most of the balance of the herd remained in Egypt with wealthy, royal and titled Egyptian families. It was at this point that the government of Egypt realized the significance of their equine treasures and the degree of devotion among their breeders. In 1908, they formed the Royal Agricultural Society whose leaders gathered the best descendants of the Abbas Pasha and Ali Pasha Cherif herds for the overall good of the country. Today, the R.A.S. is known as the Egyptian Agricultural Organization.

The reputation of the beautiful horses of Egypt found its way to America. The Blunts had sold a handful of Egyptian horses to an occasional American and a few others. Having heard of their superior qualities, Mr. Henry Babson traveled to Egypt and purchased seven horses in 1932. To this day, the term, "Babson Arabian," designates horses with blood stemming from his imports.

Twenty years later, Donald and Judith Forbis imported a trio of superior horses from the Egyptian Agricultural Organization, as did Douglas and Margaret Marshall and Jim and Eloise Kline. The imports of the Babson era are sometimes referred to as, "old" Egyptian and the latter, as "new."

Dedicated breeders of the Egyptian Arabian are committed to the preservation of this purest of all equine blood. To lose the purity of a single mare through careless breeding is a sin among them. Aggressive research clarifies any question concerning the purity of a Straight Egyptian pedigree. Within this group are several passionate researchers who have devoted their lives to the continued documentation of these horses.

Preservation of Bloodlines

In 1952, Miss Jane Ott began a list of the horses proven in every line to trace directly to the Desert. This is the "Blue Catalog." She continued this catalog until the early 70's, when she closed her research. The organization known as Al Khamsa has continued her work. There are variations as Al Khamsa accepts some horses not listed in the Blue Catalog. All these horses trace directly, in every line, to horses from Bedouin Tribes, or to exceptional individuals, such as Abbas Pasha and Lady Ann Blunt, who only purchased horses from these sources. The terms "Blue List" and "Al Khamsa" indicate that this horse is believed pure by these meticulous organizations. The term, Asil, meaning purebred, is a German based organization with the same goals. The term, Egyptian Related, is a term for a purebred Arabian horse whose sire, or both grandsires, are Straight Egyptian Arabians.

In the late 1980's another group formed, Sheykh Obeyd. This name is in honor of the Egyptian stables of Lady Anne Blunt. Horses they list as "Sheykh Obeyd," must trace directly to Egypt/Blunt horses as defined by Al Khamsa, and are referred to as old Egyptians. It should be noted that not every horse listed as Al Khamsa or Sheykh Obeyd is considered to be straight Egyptian.

Lady Anne Blunt's stables of Royal Egyptian horses were a continuation of the ongoing blood of Abbas Pasha stables and other important Egyptian sources. Her daughter, Lady Wentworth, did not possess her strict devotion to purity. When she inherited Crabbet Stud she changed the complexion of these horses completely. However, horses known as Crabbet Arabians carry an extremely high percentage of Egyptian blood in their pedigrees.

Reference to "Polish," "Russian" and "Spanish" Arabians refer to horses from breeding programs of those countries. Interestingly, the horses of Egypt have played an important part in their foundation. The most influential modern day horse of Russia was Aswan. The Tersk Stud of Russia used him extensively throughout his life. Aswan was a straight Egyptian stallion, a son of the legendary Nazeer out of the fine mare, Yosreia. In Spain, Egyptian blood is thick through the blood of Crabbet horses purchased by that country.

Modern breeders have recently, rediscovered the value of crossing the blood from these other bloodlines with pure Egyptian blood. Many of the most successful and sought after horses in the American show ring are the results of the infusion of pure Egyptian blood. Likewise, other breeds often choose to infuse Arabian blood to strengthen or add prepotent characteristics like beauty, refinement or endurance. Since ancient times, throughout the world, man has looked to Egypt as the source for the best blood. The Straight Egyptian Arabian represents less than 2% of the Arabian breed registered in America, yet holds 30% of the National titles.

The Pyramid Society is a well-organized nucleus for the preservation of the purebred Egyptian Arabian horse. It works to perpetuate the straight Egyptian and offers its advantage to breeders of other bloodlines through the Egyptian Related program. The Mecca for Egyptian breeders is the annual Egyptian Event. It occurs each June at the Lexington Kentucky Horse Park, which also houses its offices. Here one can see the cream of the current breeding programs, attend seminars and enjoy the ongoing hospitality of the various breeding farms.

The purity of the Egyptian Arabian horse has endured from the beginning of history due to the passionate devotion of its caretakers. The fittest have survived centuries of battle, and harsh use across torrid desert sand. It has earned respect with its great beauty, intelligence, strength, courage, and stamina. Gold has adorned its head and the horse has walked on carpets of silk. It has slept in the tents of its owners and taken food before kings and pharaohs. Is there any wonder why its blood, fine qualities, and purity are so precious?

Reprinted with permission of Barbara Lewis, Baraka Farm, Cove, Arkansas


Desert Roots

Although the exact origin is unknown, somewhere between Northern Egypt and the Euphrates, where history began, dwelled an ancient breed of horse, known today as the Arabian. The Arabian is the only original "hot blood." There is no known link between the Arabian and any of the other branches of the prehistoric horse. He is unique unto himself, possessing qualities and characteristics unlike any other breed. His prepotence in passing on characteristics is unrivaled as he has remained virtually unchanged over thousands of years.

The Bedouin tribes of the desert were the first to recognize the extraordinary qualities of these horses. The harshness of the nomadic desert life required tremendous endurance and stamina from these horses, and only the strongest survived. As war raids were a regular part of Bedouin culture, the mare chosen to be ridden into battle had to be as swift as the wind, unflinchingly brave and blindly obedient. Stallions had to be extremely prepotent in passing on the most desired traits, for to keep a stallion that did not was a luxury the Bedouins could ill afford. Only the best sire-quality colts were kept. All others were killed at birth. As a matter of dire necessity, only the best mares were bred, and stallions kept. The ability to exist on the most meager of rations, the braveness of heart and the supreme devotion to a human master were characteristics that evolved gradually through superior individuals who were best able to accommodate themselves to the dreadful hardships of their lot. Ironically, a frugal land and its people, who had little to offer in the way of riches, became the source of a breed of horse that has become legendary for great beauty. Mohammed Ali the Great, ruler of Egypt during the early 1800s, was among the first of what would become a succession of very elite, discriminating breeders who became enthralled, even obsessed, with these fascinating desert beauties. Sending his agents out into the desert to acquire the most magnificent and precious of these treasures, Mohammed Ali eventually assembled one of the largest and finest collections of desert Arabians in the history of the breed.

After his death, Mohammed Ali was succeeded by his son Ibrahim and later by his nephew, Abbas Pasha. It was Abbas Pasha's absolute commitment to perpetuating these living masterpieces according to the breeding practices of the Bedouins that set the standard. Abbas Pasha, determined to acquire the very finest of the breed, sent his emissaries to comb the desert, enduring great hardships and danger, to seek out the most prized stallions and mares. Aware of the great importance the Bedouin bestowed upon the pedigree, Abbas Pasha paid huge sums of money to obtain those horses whose pedigrees were held in the highest esteem. He went to great lengths to ensure that these pedigrees were of first class quality and unquestionably reliable. The information acquired during this formidable quest was compiled into book form known as the Abbas Pasha Manuscripts.

After the death of Abbas Pasha, and the subsequent dispersal of his legendary stud, the torch was again picked up and carried forward. Ali Pasha Sherif, like Abbas Pasha, had an obsession for breeding magnificent desert Arabians. He acquired 40 of the original Abbas Pasha stock (which included the acquisitions of Mohammed Ali the Great), and continued to add to his herd, bringing in more desert bred stock. At its peak, the stud of Ali Pasha Sherif numbered more than 400!

Early in the 19th century, transportation modes had improved, and the privileged wealthy class of Europe began to explore the Middle East. Lady Anne Blunt, a seasoned world traveler, made several daring trips into the desert along with her husband Wilfrid Blunt. They were in search of Bedouin stock of the highest quality with which to establish a breeding farm in England, Crabbet Park. Lady Anne became so enamored with the desert horses, that she eventually became a devout student of Bedouin breeding. She adopted the Bedouin fervor for perpetuating only those Arabians of the purest of pedigree. She became committed to the Bedouin's definition of "asil" (purity) type, believing that horses of such ancestry were marked by certain physical characteristics, which gave testimony to their purity, and left no question as to their authenticity.

Crabbet Park

The Blunts began breeding Arabians in 1878 and continued together until their agreed separation in 1906. With the importance of the horses in their lives, it is not surprising that they chose to partition the Crabbet Stud. Not all details of the division are precisely known, but Wilfred moved his section of the stud to Newbuildings, and Lady Anne remaining with her portion at Crabbet Park. The record shows that both Crabbet and Newbuildings bred individuals of the very highest distinction.

Lady Anne later chose to settle in Egypt at the garden of Sheykh Obeyd near Cairo. The Blunts had founded a stud at Sheykh Obeyd about 1890. It was reorganized in 1897 and provided a rallying point for the remnant of the famed breeding programs of Abbas Pasha and Ali Pasha Sherif. The original intent had been to exchange stock between the Crabbet and Sheykh Obeyd 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.

It is difficult to know where to begin and where to end when discussing the horses imported to Crabbet from the lands that gave this breed its birth. The discussion must begin with Mesaoud, a chestnut with four white stockings purchased from the famous stud of Ali Pasha Sherif in Egypt (see also Egyptian Arabians). Mesaoud was imported to England in 1891. He was to become one of the most influential Arabian stallions in the world and shows up today in literally thousands of pedigrees. His principal sons were Seyal, Daoud, Nejef, Astraled, Nadir and Lal-I-Abdar. Perhaps the most famous of the lot was Astraled, foaled in 1900. One of his sons was Gulastra, who went on to sire Rahas, the sire of Rabiyas, who sired Abu Farwa, a horse that established his own line in the United States. However, another of Mesaoud's sons, Seyal, was the sire of Berk, a stallion that established a line of Arabians known for their brilliant action. Mesaoud seemed to epitomize everything the Blunts were looking for in an Arabian horse. He was good-boned, strong and of excellent conformation. In addition, he was an extremely handsome horse.

This period was one of great energy and expansion, and laid the foundation for all that was to follow at Crabbet Park.

Upon the death of Lady Anne in 1917 a family feud between Wilfred and his daughter raged. The situation became quite intense with court action taken. Lady Wentworth emerged at helm of Crabbet Park, and went about producing her "super horses" called because of their increased size and included such animals as Oran and Grand Royal. She continued to narrow the scope of the pedigree base while embarking on sales of horses to several countries. Lady Wentworth's major stroke of ingeniousness was the purchase of Skowronek. Although she was noted for breeding the taller type of Arabian she also continued with the smaller Skowronek and later Dargee.

Upon the death of Lady Wentworth, the stud went to Cecil Covey, who was employed at the stud. He continued to breed the Crabbet Arabians until 1971 when a freeway was to cut through the property and the horses had to be sold.

Crabbet Influence

Nearly every modern breeding tradition has been enhanced by contributions from Crabbet and a robust Crabbet heritage maintains its own identity. When studying photos of the early Crabbet imports, one is not swept away by the intrinsic, classical beauty of these horses. Some appear rather plain and lacking in what today is considered appropriate Arabian type. What horsemen are impressed with, and this seems to be what impressed American breeders who imported them, is a sturdy and sound conformation that permitted them to be ridden or driven without undue worry about breakdowns. Those qualities endure today in many horses carrying Crabbet blood.

During the 93 years that the Stud operated, it produced many horses that were to go on and found other great studs. Some notable horses produced were Naseem, who was sold to the Russian Government with over 20 other Crabbet Arabians. Naseem was to stand at the Russian Tersk Stud for 17 years, where 19 of his daughters were incorporated into the stud. Naseem also produced the influential Russian sire Negatiw, the sire of *Naborr and Salon. The pure Crabbet mare Rissalma also had an enormous impact on the stud through her son Priboj.

At the Egyptian Agricultural Organization (E.A.O.) Stud there are sixteen mares and forty one stallions listed as root stock in their stud book. Of these, nearly half were bred at Sheykh Obeyd or at Crabbet Park. One such example was Kazmeen, who was sold to the Egyptian Agricultural Organization in 1920 along with several other Crabbet horses. In this stud Kazmeen sired Bint Samih who went on to produce the much celebrated Nazeer. If this was the only contribution Crabbet blood had in the E.A.O. it would have been outstanding, but the fact is that several of the Crabbet horses bred in the stud can still be found in modern Egyptian pedigrees.

Skowronek just might be the most important stallion in Crabbet history, although, ironically, he was not bred in the desert and was not involved in the earliest foundations of the Crabbet program. He was bred in Poland late in the first decade of the 1900's. His sire was Ibrahim, a stallion Count Joseph Potocki of Poland bought in Arabia. Skowronek's dam was Jaskolka, a mare that had been foaled in Poland. H.V.M. Clark showed him at a horse show attended by Lady Wentworth. One look and it was all over. Lady Wentworth had to have Skowronek. Not only was he the fulfillment of her dreams for owning an impeccable white horse-most of the Crabbet horses were chestnuts and bays-but he would also make an excellent outcross stallion for the Crabbet mares. She succeeded in procuring Skowronek and began breeding him to her mares, especially those of the Dajania and Rodania lines. Skowronek was the sire of *Raffles, imported to the United States by Roger Selby and *Raseyn, imported by W.K. Kellogg.

The United States of America were also keen buyers of Crabbet Arabians, with large numbers purchased by Spencer Borden, W.R. Brown, Homer Davenport, and W.K. Kellogg. But it is Bazy Tankersley who purchased the largest consignment of Crabbet Arabians, 32 horses in 1957. These horses are easily found in current U.S. pedigrees, and are the subject of CMK Group (Crabbet, Maynesborough and Kellogg).

The problem in trying to discuss in a brief treatise the influence of Crabbet lines is that they are so widespread, once launched from the prime source. As a small example, one of the sons of Crabbet-bred Oran was *Oran Van Crabbet, imported to the United States by R.H. Dow. He established his own mark in the show world and then sired sons and daughters who in turn are breeding that ability on. No discussion of Crabbet horses can be conducted without mentioning the role of Bazy Tankersley, today the major breeder of the bloodlines first established by the Blunts.

Mrs. Tankersley purchased 32 horses from Crabbet and Hanstead in the first contingent. Among them was the Rissalix son, Count Dorsaz, as well as three Rissalex daughters. Mrs. Tankersley built her breeding program around two prime sire lines, *Raffles and Rissalix, the now well known 'Double R Cross.' Her chief stallion on the *Raffles side was Indraff, a straight Crabbet horse. For many years, it would be fair to say, her foundation stock set the standard for producing champion Arabian horses and that legacy continues today.



Nearly six thousand years ago, the warriors of the Iberian Peninsula were established as superior horsemen. In historic times it is well documented that the Iberian cavalry had achieved fame as an effective and fearless foe, much of their success being due to their fine mounts. This type of warfare consisted of individual horse charges with fast starts, stops and pirouettes followed by retreats and renewed attacks. A form of riding that was made possible by the use of very agile horses, curb bits and pointed stirrups.

In 711 AD, the Muslims invaded the Iberian Peninsula, at the time being ruled by the Visigoths, and occupied it until the end of the 15th century. Much has been written about the influence of the Barb and Arabian horses on the Iberian stock during occupation. Because of their own beliefs in the quality of their war mares, it is possible that from this period the status of the mare became well established. The mares hold a great deal of respect within the Arabian breeding programs in Spain and in general throughout Europe. More emphasis is placed on them and their Tail Females (root mare on the bottom line of the pedigree) as compared to the emphasis placed on stallions and the sire line in the USA.

Originally all breeding in Spain was in the hands of Royal families and Nobles. As the various kingdoms were united by means of both wars and marriages eventually creating a central government, the "State" took over the selection and improvement of equine breeding. Obligatory military service started in the 1700's with a minimum of 8 years. This often led to a lifetime career with further promotions into the Ministry. Officers not only were attached to their mounts; their lives depended upon them. All horses were considered tools of War and the breeding of them came under the Department of Defense. The Iberian War Horse and its crosses were famous throughout Europe during the Middle Ages. It was big, impressive and agile. As more and more of the heavier draft type bloodlines were added, it became a far too cumbersome a horse for any length of travel or speed. Massive roman heads developed, heavy thick necks and broad powerful hindquarters. They were a fearsome spectacle that terrified the villagers in small European hamlets. However as firearms were developed and armour gave way to lighter protection, these horses were far too heavy and slow to put up any resistance against any warrior mounted upon their smaller lighter and far quicker desert bred horses from the Orient..

By 1847, the young 16 year old Queen Isabel II preferred a more agile better tempered mount. She concentrated on breeding purebred arabians, keeping records of her private stock. She sent a buying commission to the desert to search for the best bloodstock in order to revive and to improve the declining horse population. Thus in 1847 the First Spanish Registry and Stud-Book was started and remains the oldest established register of Arabians today. Her son, King Alfonso XII, continued this trend and imported fine blooded Arabians from France in 1884-1885. By 1893 a Royal Order laid the foundation for the breeding of Arab horses by the State and established the Yeguada Militar in Cordoba at Moratalla. Few purebreds were produced from these earlier imports as the intention was to improve the cross-blooded Iberian Warhorse and upgrade all equine stock in Spain.

The Basis of Modern Day Breeding:

By 1904, serious breeding of the purebred Arabian began on behalf of the Yeguada Militar with various buying excursions (1905-1908) into Mesopotamia, Syria, and the Arabian Desert to purchase the finest breeding stock available. According to the 1905 diary kept by Captain Luis Azpeitia de Moro, 'En Busca del Caballo Arabe' , they were looking for refinement, good riding mounts, height (15 hh minimum) and had age limits with a preference of 8-10 years. Boat travel was long and stressful so the horses purchased had to have known stamina. Hundreds of horses were looked at and only 23 head purchased. The 1906 buying commission sent to Poland also brought back a similar number.

However it was the imports of 1908 and 1912 again from the desert and Poland that were the most significant on today's lines. The types chosen were predominantly Hamdani Simri noted for its excellence as a riding horse and its placable temperament and the Saklawi type noted for its refinement, beauty, and speed. There were also several Managhi Sbeyli, Koheilan Ad'jouz, Koheilan Rodan and some get of a Dahman stallion, notably the stallion Ursus from Poland and his paternal sister, Damietta.

A Closed Gene Pool:

For almost 100 years since then, there have been little outside bloodlines added to the gene pool. As a private breeder, the imports made by Cristobal Colon de Aguilera, XV Duque de Veragua, from England between 1926 and 1930 had great impact. In 1935 and early 1936 he also bought all the female stock from the heirs of the Marques de Domecq stud. He was killed during the Spanish Civil War in November of 1936, leaving no direct heirs. His bloodstock, mostly from the Crabbet Stud included five daughters of Skowronek and was of such renown that it was collected by the Military in order to preserve it. The stallion Razada was among the horses unfortunately killed but all those remaining were sent to their broodmare farm, Moratalla, in Cordoba. Most mares were branded and thus identified. Some with the older fillies were identified as Veragua's purebred arabians but the loss of all papers required that they be renamed with the prefix 'Vera'. These were kept by the military. The younger fillies were sold, mainly to the Duque's niece the Marquesa de Avella whose breeding program still thrives.

Then and still now, the Yeguada Militar keeps a broodmare band of 20-30 head and sells off the surplus to private breeders. They keep some 100 stallions which annually are placed in various Remount Stallion Deposits throughout the country for use of breeders and to improve the local stock for a very nominal fee. Purebred get are duly measured, identified, registered, and qualified by a military commission or agent to be included in the foal registry. At the age of four years these foals are included in the main Stud-Book. Grade mares or half Arabian mares will get half papers for their foals which are not included in the Spanish Stud-Book. All stallions of breeding age must be certified by the Military Commission's Cria Caballar in order to be used at stud and are designated either for private or public use..

Although the numbers have increased from 328 in the early 1960's to nearly 13,000 registered Arabians in Spain today (2006), in the USA Spanish Arabians and Spanish Related Arabians represent far less than .1% of the total Arabian population. Because of their rarity and minimal numbers this bloodline is used mainly as breeding stock. Few of these horses have actually been shown publicly yet when ever presented, Spanish Arabians and their related crosses take an extremely high percentage of wins in shows and events.

Introduced to the USA by James and Edna Draper in 1934 with 5 imports including the foundation mares, *Meca and *Menfis, no further major additions were made until the Charles Steen imports of 1965. These brought 25 more Spanish to the US, some en utero like *Barich de Washoe, leading sire of 104 pure Spanish foals and sire of 446 get with no less than 27 National Wins. By 1975 importations from Spain were made more feasible by the recognition of the Veragua horses in their studbook. The late 70's and 1980's saw a wave of importations from Spain , many of which were used predominately for outcross breeding.

Worldwide Influence:

Well known names such as leading sires *AN Malik and *Barich de Washoe, the triple National Champion mare Abha Hamir, the 3/4 Spanish stallion triple National Western Pleasure Champion CA Hermoso, and the half Spanish stallions *El Shaklan and Magnum Psyche are familiar to breeders the world over. As the older imported horses have passed on, newer blood is being sought after and importations have started up again in the new Millennium. Because of their previously closed gene pool and the heavy line breeding up until 1970, the Spanish Arabian has remained quite distinctive in type. In breeder's terms, they tend to breed true. Due to importations to Spain of external bloodlines from 1970 onwards, the term Classical Spanish is used to designate those Spanish Arabians who trace their lineage to horses which were in the Spanish Stud-Book prior to 1970, thus having all four grandparents trace in all lines to the Spanish Foundation Stock, whose original Arabic pedigrees are kept in the 'Golden Books.' in Madrid, Spain. As of 2007, AECCA (Asociacion Espanola de Criadores de Caballos Arabes), the National Breeders Association is the sole registering authority for arabians in Spain. Both AECCA and its affilite member, Spanish Arabian Horse Society now merged with SAHBI (Spanish Arabian Horse Breeders International) endeavor to promote the Classical Spanish Arabian bloodlines and their related crosses. This effort and the selective breeding by Spain's Yeguada Militar and their private breeders, have made the Spanish Arabian an extremely versatile athletic horse with a willing and gentle temperament. Smooth of line, well angled with a supple neck, it is noted for its large beautiful dark eyes, dense bone, short and strong coupling, high tail carriage and its trainability. The genetic impact of this tight gene pool has excelled as an outcross. Spanish and Spanish-Related Arabians have won innumerable championships throughout both North and South America, Europe and the Middle East. This bloodline has many dedicated owners and admirers worldwide.

Join them and experience the Spanish Arabian for its unique temperament, elegance and quality performance.

Contributed by Elizabeth G. Campiglio, SZED Spanish Arabians, Mallorca, Spain


The history and development of the Polish Arabian is inextricably involved with war. Without natural boundaries, Poland has for centuries been the prey of stronger, more aggressive nations. First the Mongols, then the Tatars and finally in the seventeenth century, the Turks, attempted to conquer Poland.

Through the years, Polish horsemen came to appreciate the sound, tough war mounts of their Middle Eastern and Asian adversaries, and the horses-Arabians-became the most desirable prizes of war. The captured horses were retained and stud farms were set up. As early as the sixteenth century, writings mention the breeding of purebred Arabians in Poland. In 1699 a truce with Turkey severed the Polish horsemen's most convenient means of acquiring Arabian horses. To compensate, they began organizing expeditions to the desert to obtain bloodstock, and during the eighteenth century, the breeding of Arabians grew.

World War I nearly destroyed Arabian breeding in Poland. Since the cavalry was then a viable military weapon, the horses were even more vulnerable; by the close of the war, only 25 mares and seven fillies were left. The Poles built back, and the Arabian Horse Breeding Society was formed in 1926, introducing racing as a means of physical testing in 1927. The Society also published the first studbook in 1932.

World War II rolled over Poland with a devastation that eclipsed its predecessor. Russia removed most of the finest horses, and Polish horsemen evacuated and protected as many of the horses as they could. Others were simply lost. Witez II and Bask's grand-dam *Iwonka III were forwarded to the U.S. and sold at auction. Following the close of World War II, Poland fell under the influence of the Soviet Union and the studs came under the jurisdiction of the state.

The Polish breeding program today is, as it always has been, based on its broodmares. There are many dam-lines in use, all dating back 100 to 150 years or more-some from the turn of the nineteenth century. Sire lines have been somewhat more diverse. In the early twentieth century, there were approximately 30 sire lines in use.

Two of the four 1931 imports left particularly significant lines in Poland. Kuhailan Haifi, known for his athletic prowess, sired Ofir, who produced the triumvirate of Witraz, Wielki Szlem and *Witez II. Witraz, who was more beautiful than Wielki Szlem and possessed a fiery temperament, was the sire of *Bask++.

In a monumental case of oversimplification which is nevertheless somewhat helpful in keeping traits straight when starting out, Americans tend to refer to Polish horses of intense refinement and beauty as "Seglawi" in type, while the more athletic ones are generally "Kuhailan." This is, as mentioned, an oversimplification, as both terms refer to strains and there were many more strains than just those two. However, the program has always reflected the judicious mixture by breeders of tough, athletic characteristics with ethereal beauty and remembering the two types can help one keep track of the teams. Seglawi horses often come in grey, while Kuhailans are frequently bay.

Most Polish horses go to the track in Warsaw n their three-year-old year to pursue a career on the turf. The object is not necessarily to win races, the breeders are examining a horse's ability to carry weight over distance with speed, and his or her soundness and capacity for quick recovery. Those that pass the tests are retained for breeding on the stud farms; others are sold. Other than the importations by General Dickinson and Mr. Babson in the thirties, Americans by and large did not acquire Arabians from Poland until the late fifties and early sixties. It was then that British breeder Patricia Lindsay, intrigued by the history and quality of the Polish breeding program, learned the Polish language and traveled to Poland to investigate for herself. She purchased and leased horses for her program and eventually bought for interested Americans. American breeders began visiting Poland in search of bloodstock, and the relationship has been growing ever since.

The Poles host an annual auction, the only time during the year that horses are sold for export. Held in late summer, the sale is publicized worldwide and conducted the day after the Polish National Horse Show. Predominantly the horses for sale are broodmares with one or two stallions offered. Some young stallions just off the track are or fresh from a season or two at stud are available for purchase in a silent auction.

By Mark Kirkman, reprinted with permission of National Show Horse magazine


One has to wonder why horses bred in the United States were never called "American Arabians," but they have always been referred to as "Domestic." Heavily based on Crabbet, the Domestic Arabian is not too different from that of most Americans -- lots of English, with strains from other nations thrown in. Even though the colonists brought "oriental" stallions from England to upgrade their Thoroughbred stock, these owners did not breed purebred Arabians.

The turning point for purebred Arabian breeding came with the 1893 Chicago World's Fair, which provided an opportunity for the first sizeable importation of Arabians to the United States. The Turkish government organized an exhibition of 45 horses, some of which were of high quality. When the exhibition fell upon financial straits the horses were auctioned in 1894 after whetting the American breeder's interest in breeding purebred Arabians in the United States. In the ensuing years, stud farms were founded which would write the early history of purebred Arabian horse breeding in this country. The first Arabian breeders were located principally in the East and Midwest, although as time passed, the center of action for the Arabian horse moved to California. Early breeders imported from Egypt, the desert and England, largely because other sources of bloodstock common today-notably Poland, Russia and Spain-were not especially open to foreign exportation (there were two importations from Poland and one from Spain in the 1930's; otherwise, the horses came from the traditional sources). The breeders showed a willingness to cross bloodlines with little of the adherence to maintaining nationalities of origin which became common and lucrative by the 1980's. They required their animals to also be useful, often training horses for endurance, polo and jumping. There was little, if any, importance placed on a horse that simply stood around and looked pretty.

Among the visitors to the 1893 World's Fair was young political cartoonist Homer Davenport, who was so intrigued by the horses he saw that he spent the next few years studying bloodlines and tracing the World's Fair Arabians after the bankruptcy sale. In 1906, with the blessings of President Theodore Roosevelt, the artist/horseman organized his first expedition to the Middle East, financed by Peter B. Bradley who had purchased many of the World's Fair horses

Even before his breeding program was organized, Homer Davenport made history in American Arabians. He and other early Arabian enthusiasts formed what would become the Arabian Horse Registry of America in 1908. For a long time, many owners double registered their horses with the Jockey Club, which accepted Arabian horses in the American Stud Book until 1943. By 1910, he had imported four more Arabians from England, mainly from Crabbet Park. As his breeding program developed, he became one of the best known of the early American breeders.

His most famous stallion was *Abu Zeyd, a Mesaoud son imported from Crabbet Park. His program is maintained today by breeders who use the descendants of his horses to perpetuate "Davenport Arabians." At the time that purebred Arabian breeding began to grow in the United States, there were few sources of horses. The Crabbet influence-either straight Crabbet breeding or Crabbet combined with outcrosses-dominated the American Arabian scene for the first six decades of the twentieth century; it was not until the influx of Polish and Egyptian horses in the sixties that the focus of American breeding began to shift and widen.

In 1912, William Robinson Brown established Maynesboro Stud in Berlin, New Hampshire with horses purchased from early breeders. Eventually he added farms in Iowa and Wyoming, and in a breeding career spanning more than 20 years, imported 33 horses, from Crabbet Park, France and Egypt. The Depression forced the stud's dispersal in 1933, and the Brown horses were sold to the Kellogg Ranch, Roger Selby, William Randolph Hearst, General Dickinson at Traveler's Rest and a few others.

Albert W. Harris was a Chicago banker with a farm in Lake Geneva, Wisconsin, when his interest in Indian ponies grew to encompass Arabians. He acquired his first Arabian from the Davenport importation of 1908, and won the first major endurance race in this country on a Brown horse. His breeding operation was known as Kemah Arabian Farm, but like the Davenport Arabians, his horses through the years commonly have been referred to with their breeder's name, as "Harris Arabians."

W.K. Kellogg, who achieved fame as the cereal king from Battle Creek, Michigan, founded his Arabian horse ranch in Pomona, California in 1925, the realization of a childhood dream. He imported horses from Crabbet Park during the 20's, the most notable of whom was the very successful stallion, *Raseyn. Probably more than any one person, Kellogg was responsible for the widespread popularity of the Arabian in Southern California. Every Sunday afternoon, the Kellogg Ranch staged an exhibition of Arabian horses, and these weekly shows were famous and very well attended. In the days before the Los Angeles area was known for its smog, spectators would travel the hour or two drive east of the city to see the horses. The air was crystal clear, the sunshine warm, and the Arabians well-schooled. The horses demonstrated high school steps, tricks, gaits, jumping-nearly everything a horse could be taught, the Kellogg horses could do. Many a love affair with the Arabian horse began on a Sunday afternoon at the Kellogg Ranch. Raseyn established a virtual dynasty during his years at stud. One of his most famous sons was Ferseyn, for many years a leading sire of champions, who in turn sired Ferneyn, who sired Ferzon, the most important stallion in the Gainey Arabians program. Ferseyn also sired Amerigo (x Szarza, a Polish import), sire of Khemosabi, and Kontiki, one of the best Arabian racehorses in the U.S. Another son of *Raseyn was Sureyn, again a leading sire of champions.

The Ranch was finally given to the California Polytechnic Institute, and is used today for Cal Poly's equine program. What W.K. Kellogg's ranch was to Southern California, the Roger Selby Stud of Portsmouth, Ohio, was to the East. Selby imported most of his stock from Crabbet Park between 1928 and 1933, although one of his most famous stallions, *Mirage, had come to Crabbet from the desert. In his 1932 importation from Crabbet was the grey stallion *Raffles, destined to become one of the best-known and most prolific sires in the development of the Arabian breed in this country. Raffles was pony-sized, standing under 14 hands, but there was nothing small about his contribution; he was one of the most preeminent stallions in the country throughout his career. Among his famous offspring were the stallions Indraff, later one of the most influential sires at Al Marah Arabians; Azraff (x Azja IV, imported from Poland by Henry Babson), who in turn sired Comar Bey Beau and Galizon, among many others; Handcyraff, Rapture, and the full brothers Aaraf and Aarief. *Raffles and his near-relation *Raseyn (both stallions were by the Crabbet super-sire, Skowronek) substantially outdistanced their rivals during their productive years in headcount of offspring and championship records.

One of the most eclectic of the early breeders was Brigadier General J.M. Dickinson, who founded his Arabian stud in 1930 at Travelers Rest Farm in Franklin, Tennessee, an old Southern estate which had been in his family since the time of Andrew Jackson. General Dickinson was a well-rounded horseman (Travelers Rest had previously been noted as a Saddlebred nursery) who acquired some of his first Arabians from the Kellogg Ranch and Maynesboro Stud-Egyptian and French stock, and homebreds. He later added Crabbet-bred horses from the Babson Stud, some of the Harris horses, and imported from Egypt and from Brazil.

Travelers Rest produced some of the best Arabians in the country, as General Dickinson experimented with the many crosses his varied bloodlines offered, successfully mixing Polish, Egyptian and domestic. He usually maintained between 30 and 40 broodmares on the farm; his most famous stallions were the Polish *Czubuthan, the Egyptian *Nasr, and the domestic Gulastra, although he used many others to a lesser extent. The black stallion Hallany Mistanny, who later in his life would enjoy success and popularity as a sire, was bred at Travelers Rest. Like Brown and Selby, Dickinson published meticulously detailed catalogues of his breeding herd.

Henry B. Babson of Chicago, Illinois, was not a young man when he set up his Arabian stud farm at Grand Detour, Illinois. Like Dickinson, he tested the Polish-Egyptian cross; his most famous stallion was the Egyptian *Fadl, who crossed on the Polish mare *Kaztelanka, produced Fadheilan, sire of Fadjur, for many years the leading living sire of champions. He differed from his contemporaries, who largely favored mating whatever horses seemed appropriate without regard to country of origin, and adhered to Egyptian bloodlines.

Another breeder was newspaper magnate William Randolph Hearst who owned one of the largest herds of Arabians in the country at his San Simeon estate. Hearst's original Arabians were purchased from Maynesboro Stud in the mid-1930's. His most prominent stallions were Gulastra (purchased from Travelers Rest), Rahas, Ghazi and Rihal. In 1947 Hearst's stud manager (previously horse manager to General George Patton) explored the Syrian desert in search of fresh Arabian bloodlines to stimulate the stud, and 14 horses were imported. Unfortunately, Hearst died in 1951 before the effects of the infusion of new blood could be felt, and the horses were auctioned. William Randolph Hearst, Jr. purchased a few of them, and the San Simeon program carries on on a smaller scale today.

A group of Polish Arabians was evacuated by the United States Army in 1945 and brought to the Kellogg Ranch for the Remount program. By the close of the war, most of Poland's most valuable bloodstock had been lost to Russia, but a small group of horses protected by General Patton was forwarded to the remount station at the Kellogg Ranch. Included in the herd was the stallion *Witez II, one of a triumvirate of young Polish stallions along with the Witraz and Wielki Szlem that had been sired by the promising Ofir in his brief two seasons at stud before the Russians removed him to their state farm at Tersk.

Daniel C. Gainey of Minnesota determined to produce the ideal Arabian by crossing Raffles-bred horses, known for their extreme beauty, with Raseyn offspring, which were famous for their athletic ability. The result was Ferzon, son of the Raseyn grandson Ferneyn. Ferzon himself sired, among others, Gai Parada+++ and Gazon, who sired Raffon.

The term "CMK Arabians" (Crabbet/Maynesboro/Kellogg) refers to horses imported from the Crabbet Stud and also imported by Homer Davenport, William R. Brown, Spencer Borden, Randolph Huntington and W.R.Hearst. This group also includes horses of the Hamidie Society as well as those bred at Kellogg Ranch and at Traveler's Rest by J.M. Dickinson.

By Mary Kirkman, reprinted with permission of National Show Horse magazine


Bred by Nobility

East Europeans became aware of the fiery, speedy Arabian breed during invasions of nomad tribesmen who spread north and west in their quest to spread the word of Mohammed. One of the long-term effects was the infusion of Arabian blood into the native horse population. As the "improvement" of succeeding generations became evident, the desire to obtain animals of desert origin grew. The wealthy nobles of Russia were no different than those of other countries and coveted purebred Arabians. What could not be obtained through war was pursued by other methods by those with the financial and political influence to journey to the homeland of these magnificent animals.

Arabians were known to have been in Russia during the 17th century, bred by Tsars and noblemen. However, organized breeding was not really established until the late 1800's. One of the first to pursue purebred breeding was Count Orlov, for whom the Orlov Trotter was named. Two others who established early private farms were Count Stroganov and Prince Sherbatov. In 1889 they traveled to Middle Eastern countries and eventually secured nearly 30 animals for breeding programs.

A few years later Count Stroganov visited the Crabbet Park Stud in England and obtained several animals, including the eminently influential stallion Mesaoud. Unfortunately, political upheaval was brewing and during the devastation created by the Russian Revolution most of the purebred Arabians were killed, the studs destroyed and the records lost.

Tersk Stud Founded

As the new government gained control and established order, attention was eventually turned once again to the breeding of quality horses. In early 1921 a state-controlled breeding farm was begun at the former estate of Count Stroganov. Known as "Tersk" the farm began with native breeds but later concentrated on the breeding of Arabians when, beginning in 1930, new stock was introduced from various sources. With the purchase of six mares and one stallion from France, the Russian program re-established itself.

The Russians had a preference for racing types of horses, and the Arabians they purchased followed that pattern. Kann would become one of the leading sources of athletic ability in the Russian Arabians, and his progeny would dominate racing. His line is most prevalent through his son Korej, a sire of more than 200 foals during his 13-year tenure at Tersk.

The next substantial purchase by the Russian government was a group of 25 horses from Crabbet Park in 1936. Unlike the French horses that were strong on athleticism but lacking in type, the Crabbet contingent contributed an ingredient of beauty and elegance. The star of the importation was Skowronek's son Naseem (out of Nasra, a granddaughter of Mesaoud). Naseem would serve as an important sire in Russia for 17 years and gained worldwide influence, especially through Negativ and Negativ's sons Nabor and Salon. On the female side, the Crabbet-bred mares proved to be great crosses with the French lines and they (and their daughters) have produced numerous outstanding sons.

The outbreak of WW II once again threw a dark cloud over livestock breeding, yet Tersk would suffer much less than many others. In fact the "silver lining" for Tersk proved to be the evacuation of the best of the Polish Arabians in 1939. Depending on the source, these horses were either "taken" or "rescued". Regardless, while Tersk benefited, it was a staggering blow to the Poles. Included in the group were Ofir whose sons Wielki Szlem and Witraz would become foundation sire lines for Poland's post-war program while his son *Witez II would spread his name and influence into the burgeoning Arabian population of the United States.

Between the cessation of conflict and having a larger number of animals to work with (some 100 were brought to Tersk between 1930 and 1947) the managers of Tersk were once again able to turn their attention to the art of breeding. The testing ground was most frequently the racetrack, and those who failed to measure up in either conformation or ability were ruthlessly culled.

Infusion of Outside Blood

In the beginning the formula that seemed to most often succeed was a nearly equal combination of French, Crabbet and Polish lines. The dominant sires were Kann (the athletic powerhouse who contributed size and speed), Naseem (who consistently added his beautiful head and neck) and Ofir (who added structure). As time passed, the lines became more heavily based on the Polish horses (due in part to their larger numbers) but the intermingling of the original sources remained with only an infrequent infusion of new blood.

The Russian program progressed along these lines in pretty much a closed unit until the late 1950's when more Polish blood was added through the stallions Arax and Semen. The final component was introduced in 1963 when the Egyptian government presented a Nazeer son to the Russians in appreciation for their help in building the Aswan Dam. The stallion, originally named Raafat, was rechristened "Aswan" and immediately incorporated into the breeding program with phenomenal results, consistently bequeathing the exotic type for which the Egyptian lines are so well known.

Aswan blood has become truly an international phenomenon everywhere except for his home country where other Nazeer sons have most ably made up for his exportation. He has had great success through both his sons and his daughters. Their exceptional type, grafted onto the strong foundation of the earlier Russian horses, has been one of the most important factors in having found such approval with breeders throughout the world. A great many of those eventually imported to the U.S. or Canada had first been sold to other countries and left a legacy of offspring behind. National winners and leading breeding animals in North America, South America and throughout Europe trace to him through his son Patron, and in Germany his son Kilimanjaro has been a leading sire. It may be considered that his son Palas, used extensively in Poland and responsible for numerous Polish and European National Champions, has done much to repay the loss

American Importations

Ed Tweed was actually the first of modern times to import Russian Arabians when he brought in, via England, several Russian horses along with a group he had purchased in Poland.

Long before the later Russian horses were accepted, American breeders were using Russian lines - although they'd been imported from and were considered "Polish". One of the first and most influential of these Russian transplants was *Naborr. Bred in Russia, he was sold to Poland where he became a premier sire of broodmares. Many of them have been imported to the U.S. and gained National awards. The triple Reserve National Champion Stallion *Gwalior and double National Champion Stallion *Aramus come quickly to mind.

Ed Tweed's Top Ten Stallion and National Champion Racehorse *Orzel was a son of Pietuszok, another Russian stallion who first gained acceptance as a noted sire in Poland.

Padrons Psyche was the sire or paternal grandsire of multiple national champions. His grand-get represent the 4th generation to attain such honors as he a son of *Padron who took the U. S. National Champion Stallion title in 1982. This is the sire line of Aswan through Patron, who was himself a National Champion in Holland. *Padron has sired more than 60 National winners worldwide but Padrons Pyche is coming on strong and likely to surpass his sire in total numbers.

The first National winner of Russian breeding was *Pristan (Aswan x Palmira). Out of 43 entries she emerged from the 1979 mare championship class with a Top Ten. The following February *Muscat made his debut at Scottsdale. Marked with a blaze carrying the distinctive crescent cutout and 4 white feet which only accentuated his spectacular movement (a trait the Russians are known for having on a consistent basis) *Muscat captivated the crowd and impressed the judges. His Stallion Championship was only the first step on a history making journey that would culminate in his the 1980 "Triple Crown" by also winning the Canadian and U.S. National Championship titles. Having such a stunning standard bearer, the Russian lines had no trouble gaining prestige and recognition.

Proving that *Muscat, while exceptional, was not the only quality animal Tersk could lay claim to, Canadian judges awarded *Nariadnaia and *Pristan Top Tens. In the U.S. the Salon daughter *Pesenka walked out with the Reserve National Champion Mare and both *Pristan and *Nariadnaia (by Aswan) added another Top Ten to their records.

Russian stallions were in the forefront of the 1981 Nationals when *Padron, technically half-Russian, charged to the Championship in Canada (and would take the U.S. title the following year) and *Marsianin took top honors in the U.S. Keeping up the distaff side, *Pristan took Top Ten number three. The performance divisions were likewise beginning to see the influx of newcomers and *Napitok began a long career of championships with a Park National Championship in Canada and a Top Ten in the U.S. Since that time evidence of the Russian program has continued to grow and spread throughout the performance scene. Such talent is not at all surprising since the goals of producing an animal that is not only pleasing to look at but extremely athletic has been the prime objective of the Russian breeding program. Their dedication to this ideal will most certainly continue to keep Russian bloodlines in high demand from breeders around the world.

by Cheryl Himes

Zone One Arabian Horse Club