"Never thank yourself: always thank the horses for the happiness and joy we experience through them." - Hans H.E. Isenhart
In a 1986 article in the May issue of Arabian Horse World of that year, Dr. Ibrahim Zaghloul, then the director of the EAO, was asked which mares, living or dead, he considered to have the strongest influence upon the EAO's breeding program. Dr. Zaghloul chose Moniet El Nefous, Kamar, Safinaz, Hebah and Adaweya. And so the story of *Ibn Safinaz starts with his dam, Safinaz, the Alaa El Din daughter, out of Ramza, (an El Sareei daughter). Safinaz already had 8 foals, through 1986, when Dr. Zaghloul said the following:
"A chestnut mare foaled February 1, 1970, has one of the prettiest heads you'll ever see, along with all the other qualities that make you take a second look. She is extremely elegant with a chiseled, tapered face and a teacup muzzle. She is one of the noblest mares in the herd, with the dry, typey look of the true Bedouin mare. She has been a superior mare for the EAO...."
It is interesting to know that the name "Safinaz" is a Persian name, which means "Fascinating Woman". In Egyptian culture, Persian, Turkish and non-Islamic names are often given to higher-class females. The mare Safinaz was in a higher class of broodmare, as evidenced by Dr. Zaghloul's testimony.
*Ibn Safinaz was her fourth son sired by Seef, foaled in 1981, named initially Swedan and purchased in 1982 by Hopeland Arabians, who imported him into the USA and registered him as *Ibn Safinaz.
*Ibn Safinaz's sire, Seef, was a son of Mashour (which means in Arabic, "renowned") and a grandson of Shaloul. Seef's dam Elwya, was out of the mare, Zareefa, who also produced the influential stallion, El Sareei (by Shaloul). The mare, Zareefa, traces in her tail female to the Bahraini mare, Bint el Bahreyn. I find it interesting to point out that the Bahraini horses are recognized for their heavier body type or rather, they are known to be horses with much substance. It is this quality that I saw in *Ibn Safinaz. Seef was not used much at stud, until he was a much older horse, in his mid-teens. Like most of the stallions used at the EAO, he was stationed at one of the agricultural depots, when he was discovered and brought back to El Zahraa, somewhere in the early 70's. Successful as a race horse, Seef became a valuable sire for the EAO, as he was known for siring powerful movement in his progeny. His foals were athletic horses, successful under saddle. The majority of Seef-sired horses were imported by Donald Ford, Martin Loeber, Bill and Janet Lowe (together with Evelyn Burton) and Rick Heber. Among these horses were the stallion, *Ibn Seef and the mares, *Higran, *Yathreb and *Lancers Asmara. Hansi Heck-Melnyk, breeder and owner of the horses carrying the world famous Serenity prefix, was in Egypt in 1972 and personally saw the stallion Seef. In May of 2006, she shared her impression of this horse:
"I happen to be at the EAO in 1972 , having horses brought before me to see. Then came this HORSE, a white stallion, prancing on a loose shank next to the handler, in a passage-like and correct balanced way, tail carried high, big eyes wide-opened and ears gently moving. I got goose bumps, which I only get when I see something truly outstanding and Dr Marsafi said, 'Hansi, this is Seef, we just brought him in from the depot, was ridden 50 km through the desert and city to get here. He has an excellent racing career and produced good foals off country mares.' I looked him over and asked Dr Marsafi if I could buy him right there and then. Dr Marsafi declined and then asked me which of the EAO mares would I breed the stallion to. I replied, 'all of them, retain the best and sell the rest.' Seef indeed did not have a Pikehead (Hechtkopf) but a beautiful profile, dry and pikant, neck was set on beautifully, clean legs- after all that work-smooth coupled and in top condition too. Nobody could ever see in him other than a very type desert bred horse."
In 1987, Imperial purchased *Ibn Safinaz and I really believe that this purchase was a pivotal turning point for Imperial Egyptian Stud. The stud had a phenomenal foundation already, that was created with outstanding mares like *Fawkia, *Serenity Sonbolah, *Serenity Sabra, *Pharrah, *Malekat El Gamal, Negmaa and the stallions Ansata Imperial and Moniet El Nafis. *Ibn Safinaz was purchased in the same time period that the German-born stallions, *Orashan and *Imperial Madheen were purchased. Imperial Egyptian Stud was ready to build upon the foundation they established and take the stud to the next level of their vision, that is, of breeding the ultimate Arabian Horse. The horses that were produced by Imperial Egyptian Stud were well known for their Arabian type, for their overall balance and for their smoothness. When *Ibn Safinaz was added to the breeding program, he contributed athletic ability, movement and a very good mind, in addition to his very correct conformation, qualities that were already existent in the Imperial breeding herd, however, *Ibn Safinaz took the farm forward to the future. Upon the death of this most wonderful horse, Beverly Sziraky offered the following::
"I have always felt that Safinaz was one of the most underrated straight Egyptian stallions in the breed. His contribution to the lmperial breeding program was immeasurable. Though we did not often show his own sons and daughters, most of our show string, through the years, had Safinaz in their backgrounds...His was a strong character, forged in an environment that encouraged the survival of the fittest. Both *Ibn Safinaz and his progeny need to be handled firmly but very quietly. They are willing, trainable and smart but will fight back if abused or mishandled. On the other hand, if asked nicely, their response is a hundred percent. As one who knew him intimately, under saddle, at the reins and in the breeding shed, I feel privileged to have known one of the truly great stallions in our breed."
As a show horse, *Ibn Safinaz became a United States National Top Ten Halter Horse, however, he was also campaigned in performance classes and he was awarded the Region 15 and 18 Championships in English Pleasure and Pleasure Driving, with wins also at Class A rated shows like the Buckeye and the Mason Dixon, in Informal Combination and Country Pleasure Driving, as well. While there is no doubt that *Ibn Safinaz was a phenomenal performance horse, together with his stablemate, Orashan; it was as a sire that *Ibn Safinaz would make his greatest mark. Unlike Orashan, who is an incredible producer of broodmares; *Ibn Safinaz produced good horses of both genders. It is rare to find a stallion, who sires equally good sons and daughters. *Ibn Safinaz was such a horse. The pedigree of *Ibn Safinaz contains multiple sources of Ibn Rabdan blood. There are 5 crosses to Ibn Rabdan through Shaloul, Layla and Hamdan. Having been a student of the Egyptian Arabian Horse for a long time, I have, over the years learned to treasure the blood of this stallion, Ibn Rabdan. In today's straight Egyptian horse, we have very concentrated sources of Mansour blood, because of the multiple crosses to Nazeer in the majority of Egyptian horses. *Ibn Safinaz carries only one cross to the stallion Nazeer in his pedigree, through the sire of his dam, Alaa El Din. Like the stallion *Ibn Hafiza, I wish that *Ibn Safinaz had been bred to higher percentage Babson mares, if not straight Babson Egyptian mares, in order to multiply the sources of Ibn Rabdan and result in horses carrying higher percentages of his blood. I am not sure at the moment, what is the highest percentage of Ibn Rabdan found in an Egyptian Horse's pedigree? In *Ibn Safinaz, one wonders over the impact, genetically, that Ibn Rabdan had upon this horse. I really like what Beverly Sziraky said about the influence of *Ibn Safinaz in the Imperial program:
"lbn Safinaz in the pedigree was, and is, a virtual guarantee of athletic ability, trainability and action. He was so prepotent for these characteristics that we could just drop him into a pedigree and then breed tor other characteristics, such as extreme type or tail carriage, without having to worry about losing these invaluable traits."
My favorite *Ibn Safinaz horses, were the horses that resulted from crossing him with the Imperial Babson lines, namely PH Safina and Ansata Nile Mist. In my opinion, I believe that *Ibn Safinaz nicked well with the *Jamil daugher, Imperial Mistilll. With Imperial Mistilll, *Ibn Safinaz sired 3 sons: Imperial Saturn in 1991, MB Mistaz in 1993 and Imperial Safari in 1999.
Jane Simicek, owner of Imperial Saturn and Willow Breeze Arabians in Louise, Texas offered the following about her horse:
"Imperial Saturn is a national top ten futurity winner. Imperial Saturn has been an easy horse to show, starting his undersaddle career in country English pleasure, then flexing over into western pleasure and hunter, sometimes at the same show. He is a versatile and athletic horse, and I believe this line is the same because colts we have here by Saturn are easy to work with, easy to train to saddle and have a good work ethic. They are willing to be versatile, love the change of pace, and love to show off."
Not to be outdone by the "boys", his 3 daughters are Imperial Saahoura in 1989, Imperial Dakhilah in 1990 and Imperial Safilla in 1992. My favorite, the mare Imperial Safilla, is now owned by Anne-Louise Toner of Al Atiq Arabians in Maryland. She foaled a gorgeous and very promising filly this year by the Asfour son, *Simeon Sachi. Anne-Louise made me laugh very hard, with a glimpse into Safilla's personality:
"Safillla also has free run of the farm when we are working outside. She usually wanders about wherever either my husband and I are working, or will go visit her pony. She can undo ANY latch - unless you put a bull snap on it (we have learned) - as well as other horse's blankets, turns on the water and will turn on a sprinkler and stand with her face over it if she is given time and opportunity to work out which tap turns on that hose. She loves our pony, and before we worked out the trick with the bull snap would open her stall door, walk over to her pony and open the pony's door, and then ignore the other mares who would be FURIOUS that she and pony were out in the courtyard while they were stuck inside. She likes peppermints too, but her favourite thing is her own Starbucks chai - not too hot - which she will slurp right out of the cup. This was also discovered by accident - she stole my drink while I was mucking stalls."
Another of my favorite *Ibn Safinaz daughters is the mare, Imperial Sahleen, who is out of the BB Ora Kalilah daughter (by Imperial Al Kamar) Imperial Kahleen. This is the other Babson line at Imperial through PH Safina, which traces to the Babson mare *Maaroufa, through the tail female line of the pedigree but also includes the blood of *Bint Bint Sabbah and *Bint Serra. When bred to Imperial Baarez, Imperial Sahleen produced the spectacular young mare, Imperial Baalena, who is now owned by Prestige Straight Egyptian in Belgium. Like her maternal grandfather, who was recognized and awarded for his good movements, this mare has very powerful, ground-eating movements, powered by a full, muscled and round hind end, elastic hocks and balanced by a free-moving shoulder, that allows her to move in a way that is appears to me that she is grabbing the ground ahead 0f her, swallowing it in huge strides. She is wonderful, stunning, magnificent and I remember when I found her at Imperial, I just could not get her off my mind. I read the news that she is in foal to the popular young stallion, Botswana, owned by Talaria and it will be exciting to learn about the foal that she will produce, crossed with Minstril lines. Another horse, who is equally exciting for many reasons, is the *Ibn Safinaz son out of MB Mazaraa: Imperial Shehaab. His full brother, the grey Imperial Saheeb, was unfortunately taken from this world, at too young of an age. A striking, very dark bay, almost black horse, he traces in his tail female to the one mare, who fires my mind with her memory: *Serenity Sonbolah. Although at first appearance, someone may not agree that he looks like his sire; a careful look at his conformation will underscore that he is his father's son. I am excited over this horse and the impact he may have upon the straight Egyptian horse. Majid Alsayegh of Douglassville, Pennsylvania owns Imperial Safemaa, another daughter of *Ibn Safinaz out of the mare, Negmaa, who is a full sister to the stallion, El Hilal. When I met Safemaa, I fell in love with her baroque look, a look that I recognized the first time that I saw *Ibn Safinaz. What is baroque? Normally, the baroque horse breeds are known as the Andalusian or the PRE, the Lusitano, the Friesian and the Lipizzan. These are all breeds which share common ground, as the Iberian Horse or the Spanish horse, as well as the Arabian Horse, influenced the formation and development of these baroque horses. Baroque horses have an old world look. Shorter-backed, with a lot of substance, their bodies are comprised of rounded lines, powerfully built hind-quarters that are large and wide, well-crested and arched necks, short, expressive heads with large, elastic nostrils, larger sized, round, black eyes. These are the horses depicted in the paintings of Velazquez, Rubens and Bernini; a time period recognized for extremely ornate styles and an extravagance or decadence of any form, whether in art, architecture, clothing and music, as a few examples. It was a style which originated in Rome and spread to France and the rest of Europe, heralding the birth of modern Europe. It was the age of Galileo and Descartes. Massive and ornate palaces were built, bordering on the unusual or even, bizarre. The term baroque, as applied to horses, recalls a period of time somewhere between the late 1600's to mid 1700's, when the noblemen of the day pursued riding at its highest and most spectacular form and developed riding into an art form, launching schools of horsemanship all over Europe. Possibly one of the greatest schools of horsemanship in this time period was established by Louis XIII of France in Versailles. This school became the Ecole de Cavalerie and became the home of Francois Robichon del la Gueriniere, the father of modern horsemanship. These baroque breeds of horses were so highly prized and so sought after, that they became the mount of choice for royalty. The very word baroque inspires romance and passion, coupled with mystery and sensuality. This was the horse from the time period of Marie Antoinette. This was the horse that inspired the classical dressage masters like William Cavendish, the Duke of Newcastle and helped to build other classical riding schools like the French Cavalry School in Saumur and the Spanish Riding School in Vienna. In the dimly lit presentation hall, I remember *Ibn Safinaz, at liberty, highlighted by natural sunlight, the thick rays of light dancing with the dust of the arena to create a foggy haze which illuminated *Ibn Safinaz's silvery white coat, made more dramatic by his muscling, creating a horse that was round, smooth and harmonious; moving freely with an exhuberance, a lightness, a freedom of movement. *Ibn Safinaz was a magnificent sight to behold on this day. The ultimate baroque horse, *Ibn Safinaz, about to perform another timeless dance, like I had witnessed a long time ago. He was a horse that could fit in comfortably, within the manege of the lords and the ladies, depicted forever in a painting, hung on the wall of a museum.
"Love does not consist in gazing at each other, but in looking outward together, in the same direction." -Antoine de Saint-Exupery
3 days ago, on September 3rd, I received a very sad email from Anne-Louise Toner to let me know that this great horse had died. *Ibn Safinaz was blessed in his old age, to have someone like Anne-Louise Toner care for him. He was able to live in very close contact with a warm and loving family, who appreciated him, every day. Anne-Louise made *Ibn Safinaz feel loved, in a different way than a stallion feels love, on a breeding farm. In July, Anne-Louise shared how much she loved this horse:
"...Regarding Saff, well, he is the sweetest, most darling horse on the planet, and whenever I am taking him anywhere rests his muzzle on my right hand, just breathing on my fingers and gently rubbing his lips on them while we walk. His latest trick is to take a big mouthful of water as I come into his stall and wait until I am not paying attention to let the whole lot dribble either down my front or over my shoulder. I have told him that I am onto him and try to watch him like a hawk, but he is a patient horse and will hold that water for fifteen to twenty minutes until I am distracted (and the water is all warm and slimey) before nailing me. He is my darling, darling friend and I love him to pieces."
After a successful show and breeding career, he was able to enjoy the end of his life in peace, in comfort and this horse died with dignity. I envy the opportunity that Anne-Louise received from Barbara Griffith and Beverly Sziraky, to not only care for *Ibn Safinaz but also to know one of the greatest stallions of our breed, on a more personal basis. For me, there needs to be no further sign to let me know what a good person Anne-Louise is, as this would not have happened to just anyone!!! Although I feel very sad that *Ibn Safinaz is no longer in this world; I can't imagine what it will be like for Anne-Louise, as she will have to learn to live each day without him. From the above description and everything Anne-Louise has told me about "Saff", he was a charming horse. Oliver Wibihal, the owner of the widely-popular website dedicated to the Egyptian Arabian Horse: StraightEgyptians.com and my "soul brother", as more often than not, we share common feelings for the same horses, said the following about *Ibn Safinaz:
"Aside from being an influential sire, the ultimate show horse and an inspiration for many of us who saw him in the ring or are the owners of his get and grand get, the soul of this horse was a golden one. He was blessed with a spirit that reached out to all who got in contact with him. His inner beauty outshined his outer appearance. For me he was the very essence of the word 'gentleness'. Never will I forget the day when I saw and touched him --and how this stallion touched me with those calm eyes that looked as if they never saw anything bad in life."
The picture that was taken by Scott Trees is one of my favorite pictures of *Ibn Safinaz and this is how I would like to remember him, as a United States National Top Ten Champion Stallion, at his peak, with a powerful shoulder, long forearms, short cannons, a strong top line, coming out of well-pronounced withers, a deep heart girth, a strong and masculine neck and yet, I could walk right up to him and scratch him on his wither and he would turn his head to nuzzle me on my shoulder, wrapping his head around my body, hugging me in gratitude. This is my idea of a perfect horse and a perfect memory that will last my lifetime. Goodbye my dear friend, goodbye.
"If I could steal one final glance, one final step, one final dance with him, I’d play a song that would never, ever end" - Luther Vandross, from the song, Dance With My Father
Enjoy your horses,