10 July, 2006

My Favorite Maarena

Maarena, a chestnut straight Babson Egyptian mare was a daughter of Fabah and out of the mare, Fada (to give you a related point of reference, Fada also produced Fa Moniet, when bred to *Ibn Moniet El Nefous. Fa Moniet, when bred to The Egyptian Prince, produced Prince Fa Moniet). Maarena was bred twice to Ibn Fa Serr, and from this breeding, the great, bay Serr Maariner and his full sister, the chestnut AK Bint Maarena were produced. In the brochure that announced the 11 lots consigned to the Pyramid Society Breeder's Sale I, 1982, Homer Watson offered the following about Maarena and her daughter, Bint Maarena:
"When we sold Maarena in 1972, they wanted to choose a mating which I felt would produce a foundation-quality mare or a stallion prospect. It took me about two seconds to decide on Ibn Fa Serr. He's been so great on Fabah daughters. Bint Maarena was the resulting foal. David Gardner took Maarena out one time, showed her to Champion Mare, and turned her back out. It didn't surprise me that she won. She was carrying Bint Maarena at the time."

Maarena was also bred to the new Egyptian stallion, *Ibn Moniet El Nefous three times, to produce the full siblings: the grey AK Monareena, AK El Maalouf, a gray stallion that went to Deep Meadow Farm in Virginia, and the chestnut, very Babson-like, AK El Zahra Moniet also went to Virginia, to Akid Arabian Stud. While I never had the opportunity to meet Maarena, I knew Serr Maariner, AK Bint Maarena and AK Monareena. When I visited Bentwood in the 1980's, there were so many horses that I wanted to meet personally, including AK El Zahra Moniet but he had just left Bentwood. I was very disappointed, as I had seen this stallion pictured in magazines and the Pyramid Society reference books, experiencing great excitement over his type and structure. He also sired many fine daughters and the son, Akid El Sareei.

Bint Maarena was a very pretty, reddish-chestnut mare, so if you believe in color-to-phenotype, she favored Maarena and Fada, rather than Ibn Fa Serr. No more than 15 hands tall, maybe a little smaller than that and very substantially built. A compact, powerful body and a wide chest. She had a very expressive face. And her temperament, WOW! She just loved people, she would stand there all day with her head on your shoulder, while you scratched both sides of her neck. I believe she was prettier than her mother and I might even go out on a limb and say that she was stronger in her conformation than Maarena. Some may have faulted her neck being too short. Some may have faulted her and said she was a little too thick but these are the usual complaints that people make about straight Babson horses or even high-percentage Babson horses. Her topline was very strong with no sagginess at all and I liked her hindquarter which was rounder than level. She did not have a very high tail carriage but it was not low either. She was one of those mares that you meet and you never forget. She made that strong of an impression on me. Her daughter, Bint Bint Maarena was a grey mare and I liked her too. She sold in the Sotheby's dispersal of Bentwood. I know because I tried to buy her and was defeated in the bidding. She had a very lovely head but her neck, especially her throatlatch was a little thick. If I had to choose between both mares, I would choose the mother, AK Bint Maarena.

I met AK Monareena on a late winter's day, in Pennsylvania at the farm of Dr. David Newcomer. I had loved this particular mare, since she was consigned by Imperial Egyptian Stud to the Bluebonnet sale, where she sold for $385,000.00! She was 18 years old when I met her, even more beautiful than I remembered. I walked her around, in the Indoor Arena, all the while experiencing the joy and magic of being so close to this mare. She was stunning. I had heard somewhere that she was a Class A Halter winner and looking at her, I understood why. She had a most expressive head with a dish. Large eyes, deep and black and round. She had a quiet way about her. She wasn't the kind of mare that was anxious, calling to her stablemates. She was elegant, reserved, ladylike even. Her body was of good proportions, as she had the substance that Babson horses are known for and yet, she was elegant because of the refinement that *Ibn Moniet El Nefous contributed to the cross. She was harmonious, everything looked like it belonged on her body. There was a point when I handed the lead rope over and watched her wlk away from me and she had such a great hindquarter that was accentuated by a beautiful tail carriage. I marveled. She was one of the most beautiful mares that I had ever seen. I wanted her to be my horse. I wanted her to be the one to help me realize all of my dreams. It was my goal to purchase this mare from them and with Gail Carmona's help, we were going to breed her to her half-brother, Serr Maariner, to see what we would get (not straight Babson but pretty darn close). Unfortunately, the price that Dr. Newcomer wanted for AK Monareena was too high for me, so this dream mating never happened. It was a point in my life that I revisit, with deep regret.

And now, we come to Serr Maariner. I have spoken about this horse in two prior articles: Hoofbeats On My Heart and What Is A Straight Babson Egyptian Arabian Horse? In my late teen-early adult years, I enjoyed regular lessons at Princeton Arabians/Los Alamos Dressage with the late Hector Carmona and his wife, Gail Hoff-Carmona. I had the opportunity to see Serr Maariner on a very regular, frequent basis. Serr Maariner was bred and raised on the Babson Farm. For 7 years, he lived quite an ordinary life, breeding some mares and receiving some under saddle training. I am not sure why and when Serr Maariner became lame but in 1977, a man by the name of Dan Ulm, was able to purchase Serr Maariner from the Babson Farm. In 1979, Gail Hoff-Carmona was able to lease Serr Maariner, in order to incorporate his bloodlines in her Babson program. I don't remember at what point, Gail started to work him under saddle but she did not believe that Serr Maariner's lameness was as a result of a physical problem. Gail suspected that the horse had never been started under saddle properly. With patient and kind understanding from Gail and Hector, Serr Maariner prospered with basic dressage training. Later that same year, with Serr Maariner already schooling Second Level movements, Gail approached Dan Ulm and offered her stallion, El Reata Juan for Serr Maariner. Gail believed that Serr Maariner had enough talent to go far, very far, not only in Arabian competition by in the USDF open division as well. Dan agreed and Serr Maariner started his phenomenal dressage career, helping Gail to win her USDF Gold Medal with him, in addition to AHSA honors and Arabian National Championships. I liked Serr Maariner quite a bit. He had an expressive head and his body build, post dressage, was dramatic. With all of his muscles, he really took your breath away. I am reminded of what Alois Podhajsky wrote in his book, MY HORSES, MY TEACHERS, about the effect that dressage training had in making his horses, Nero and Nora, more attractive:

"Correct work had made him more beautiful, his muscles had developed, and he moved cheerfully and powerfully in balance and harmony. He was once again, like Nora, convincing proof that systematic and methodical work will result in the increasing beauty of the horse."

He was magnificent. If there is anything to complain in Serr Maariner, it would have been a weakness in the croup area, which he not only had but his progeny had too. Despite the "textbook" depictions of "perfect" conformation, Serr Maariner lived a long life and was a very athletic, a very willing, and focused dressage horse. Serr Maariner sired a son, Princeton Maariner, who bears strong resemblance to Maarena. He is a very compact chestnut stallion...on the small side, a very typical Babson Kuhaylan-type stallion. He is what you would call a "3-circle horse", that is, if you were to divide his body into thirds, each third would be equal to the others. He also had a very good temperament, when I knew him. Serr Maariner also sired a wonderful daughter out of Black Satin, named Princeton Maaroufa, a prolific broodmare while owned/leased by a few people. She was a black-bay mare and my favorite horse at Princeton Arabians. She was of such high quality. I could not keep my eyes off of her. While at Los Alamos, she produced Princeton Negma, when bred back to her sire, Serr Maariner.

Some people don't like the Babson horses, as they feel they are shorter, stockier, more compact horses, as compared to the willowy, stretchier, more upright horse that is rewarded in today's show rings. I wouldn't dismiss the Babson Horses, as they are a rich repository of Ibn Rabdan blood, which blends well with the intense Mansour blood we have in the breed today. And as you can see by Maarena's legacy, they are beautiful horses, talented and willing to try anything for the people who love them.

Enjoy your horses,

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