22 January, 2009

The Straight Babson Egyptian Arabian Horse

What does the term straight Babson Egyptian mean? Have you heard someone say this before and wondered over the answer? Babson Horses are one of the longest running, closed-herd breeding groups in the entire Arabian Community. A Straight Babson Egyptian Arabian horse (SBE) would be a horse that traces, in all of its bloodlines, to a combination of the 6 horses imported from Egypt by Henry Babson in 1932 (notice that I have emphasized the words "from Egypt" which is critical in understanding Babson breeding, as Henry Babson also imported horses of Polish, Crabbet and Desert breeding, which are NOT Egyptian).
IMPORTANT: For a horse to be considered STRAIGHT BABSON EGYPTIAN, the horse must trace ONLY to the horses that Henry Babson imported in 1932, from Egypt:
MARES:
1) *Maaroufa (Ibn Rabdan x Mahroussa)-produced 15 Egyptian foals
2) *Bint Bint Sabbah (Bayyad x Bint Sabbah)-produced 13 Egyptian foals
3) *Bint Serra (Sotamm x Serra)-produced 10 Egyptian foals
4) *Bint Saada (Ibn Samhan x Saada)-produced 3 Egyptian foals
5) *Bint Bint Durra (Ibn Rabdan x Bint Durra)-produced 5 Egyptian foals
STALLION:
1) *Fadl (Ibn Rabdan x Mahroussa)-sired 34 straight Egyptian foals
There was an additional horse that was imported, *Metsur, a chestnut colt out of *Bint Serra (sired by Rustem) but he died shortly after importation and was never used at stud.
Henry Babson did try, many times, to incorporate the blood of other Arabian Horses into his breeding program. He was very open-minded, he had vision, and he recognized and appreciated Arabian Horses, from all countries, from all bloodlines. For example, from Poland, he imported 4 mares and 2 stallions:
*Azja IV (Landsnecht x Asra)
*Rybitwa (Almanzar x *Jasolka II)
*Kostrewza (Koheilan I x Dziewanna)
*Kasztelanka (Koheilan I x Bialogrodka)
*Sulejman (Fetyz x Fasila)
*Warsaw (Ofir x *Kasztelanka) imported in utero
*Kasztelanka, when bred to *Fadl, produced Fadheilan, the sire of Fadjur. And we can’t forget the Khemosabi connection in this story. Khemo's dam was Jurneeka who was by Fadjur (Fadheilan x Bint Sahara) and out of Fadneeka (Fadheilan x Raneeka). Khemosabi was almost 45% Egyptian in blood.
The mare, *Turfa, was bred by King Ibn Saoud of Arabia and was presented to King George VI of England as a coronation gift. In 1941, Henry Babson purchased her and used *Turfa at the farm, breeding her to the great Egyptian stallion, *Fadl with a lot of success. The progeny of *Fadl/*Turfa were kept within the Babson breeding program. One of the most famous (because he was the one that was used a lot) was the stallion, Ibn Fadl. The horses that were produced in the Babson/Turfa program were high percentage Egyptian but NOT straight Egyptian, since *Turfa herself was not a straight Egyptian horse. Like all the other non-Egyptian bloodlines that were introduced at the Babson Farm, the *Turfa program was dispersed, in favor of the straight Egyptian blood. In later years, Homer Watson would share his regret over the *Turfa horses. He liked the *Turfa horses and felt they were exceptional and felt that the *Turfa breeding program should have continued. From all that I have ever read and been told, this mare was an exciting horse, with one of the most exceptional trots seen in Arabian Horses in the 1940's. Since the *Turfa blood has been diluted by the Babson blood, it is hard to really see a real physical difference in the Babson *Turfas from the straight Babson Egyptians. However, sometimes, you see a Babson *Turfa horse move in this BIG trot and then you know, *TURFA!!!
Babson also imported the stallion,*Aldebar (Dwarka x Amida) who was bred by the Prince of Wales and the stallion, *Nimrod (Champurrado x Nautch Girl) an Irex grandson, bred by Musgrave Clark.
There were other Egyptian Horses, of newer bloodlines, used in the program as well. For example, Ansata Abbas Pasha (he was actually owned by the Babson Farm) and *Ibn Moniet El Nefous. I personally believe it was a major feat that Henry Babson was able to use Sirecho in his program, given the difficulties that people experienced, developing a relationship with the Otts. Sirecho was a significant horse, a son of *Nasr, who contributes another source of Prince Mohamed Aly Tewfik breeding, which is already present through*Fadl and *Maaroufa. Current research suggests that the dam of Sirecho, *Exochorda, was bred by Prince Kemal el Dine. I find it especially fascinating that in one horse, we have a combination of the breeding programs of two Princes, from a time period which was like a renaissance in Egyptian Arabian Horse history. Other than the Brown Arabian Horses, I can not think of a horse who was better suited for the Babson program than Sirecho. However, like the Arabians from other bloodline programs, the progeny of these horses did not remain in the program, much to my regret, as many of these horses added a little something that could not be found in straight Babson horses. In the twilight years of the farm, newer Egyptian blood was tried again, for example, a son of *Asadd, the lion of Egypt, by the name of Sahadi Shikari (out of the mare *Kameela, who traces to the Kuhaylah Rodaniyah mare, Bint Bint Riyala through Malaka in both tail female lines) was used. But again, in order for a horse to be considered straight Babson Egyptian, the horse must trace in all lines of its pedigree to only the 6 Egyptian horses imported in 1932 and not the newer Egyptian bloodlines. The horse is straight Egyptian but not straight Babson.
All of the above horses were added to the Babson breeding program and then, were dispersed, as Henry Babson kept returning to the bloodlines of the Egyptian horses he imported in 1932. There was no incentive at the time to do this. There was no straight Egyptian breeding concept, there was no Al Khamsa, there was no Pyramid Society. What was it about the horses he imported from Egypt in 1932, that captivated him, to the exclusion of everything else from his program? It's a question that I have always wanted to ask him, if he were still alive. I believe Henry Babson was "a true pioneer", as he really was a straight Egyptian breeder, at a period of time when this philosophy did not exist.
Preferences are just that, some people are going to like the straight Babson horses for what they are (and what they are not) and some people are going to like a diluted Babson horse. For example, the stallion FABAH (*Fadl x *Bint Bint Sabbah) sired 67 horses and this sire line is so appreciated that those 67 horses produced over 700 horses. Like the diversity we find in all Arabian Horses, so too, you will find this diversity (in a more concentrated form) in the Babsons. Since the numbers are smaller for this breeding group, a problem seen in a few horses will give the illusion that the whole group is affected, when it is only a smaller percentage of the already small number of the Babson group. I can't think of a better-tempered horse. At Princeton Arabians, you could go out in the field and walk around in a group of 20 or more mares and not fear for your life (just fear being licked, smelled and sniffed to death). Babsons, on the whole have PHENOMENAL minds. They are sane horses, focused, willing, devoted horses. When you work with horses, one-on-one, this is crucially important and very much appreciated. If you ever come across a bad-tempered Babson horse, then look closely at the owner or the owner's trainer, as these horses are not naturally this way. If you have an angular looking horse, then try Babson breeding, to bring the "curves" back into your program. No doubt about it, Babson horses are three-circle horses (a term that Carl Raswan used frequently). Fadl Dan, a chestnut Babson Kuhaylan Jellabi was the epitome of this type. He had very rounded lines, muscular, wider chested, well-crested neck, larger jowls, with larger, softer eyes (as I remember him). No horse is perfect and I will agree that a thicker throatlatch is a common "flaw" in straight Babson breeding, as well as a shortened neck. Some people don't like this type of stockier, more compact horse; preferring the stretchier show ring horse. The late Mah Deluque, a Dahman Shawan stallion, was more like a willowy horse, very unlike the type of horse, most people would associate with Babson breeding. And while people complain of the smaller stature, there are Babson Horses who are tall and I remember a gelding, Mahrou, who stands close to 15.3 hands. So, not all the Babsons are small. I will agree that sometimes, the presence of a "club foot" does appear but I see these things happening in Arabian Horses of other lines too, so is it fair to restrict these "flaws" only to Babson breeding? However, let me remind everyone reading, that despite some of the "flaws" that may crop up in heavily bred Babson horses, the fact that this bloodline, over 70 some odd years is still vigorous and can still produce some outstanding horses, is nothing short of miraculous. For this very fact, we need to celebrate the Babson Horse, in spite of the "imperfections".
I am not sure where or how the athletic/unathletic comment regarding Babson Horses originated. For a teeny-tiny group of horses, the accomplishments under saddle are significant. In my late teen-early adult years, I enjoyed lessons from Hector Carmona and Gail Hoff-Carmona. I loved spending time at Princeton Arabians and Los Alamos Dressage Center and found every opportunity to do so. Thanks to Gail Hoff-Carmona, I learned about the Babson horses in ways that are not possible from a book, magazine or video. I learned about the positives and I also learned of all the shortcomings. All of these horses were used on the farm and even the broodmares were tested in basic dressage training. They were school-horses; they participated in clinics, in schooling shows, in class "A" shows, in USDF sanctioned shows. I had the opportunity to see Serr Maariner on a very regular basis. His body build, post-dressage, was dramatically different than his body build before starting dressage training. 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 was also a good sire and I believe that his son, Pri Serr Sudan, out of the mare Pri Sufa Kuhaylah (an Ansata Ibn Sudan daughter) was better than he.
Some of the most beautiful horses in the world are a combination of the Babson bloodlines, mixed with the bloodlines of the more recently imported Egyptian Arabian Horses like *Morafic or *Ansata Ibn Halima. I saw them at Bentwood Farm (who incidentally had one of the largest Babson collections, outside of the Babson farm). For example, Serr Maariner’s dam, Maarena was bred to *Ibn Moniet El Nefous three times to produce the very exquisite, grey, AK Monareena who sold in the Bluebonnet Sale for $385,000, AK El Maalouf, a gray stallion that went to Deep Meadow Farm in Virginia, and the chestnut, very Babson-like AK El Zahra Moniet, owned by Alyce Burgess of Akid Arabian Stud. Would any of these superior-crossed horses exist if someone, somewhere, did not have the foresight to preserve the straight Babson horse?
With the heavy Mansour lines of our heavily bred Nazeer horses, the rich repository of Ibn Rabdan blood that is present in Babson breeding, offers today's breeder the opportunity to employ the "magic formula" used in Van Szandtner's day. Think of the opportunities to concentrate Ibn Rabdan, when combining a heavy *Bint Bint Sabbah horse with the blood of say, Salaa El Dine (both Bukra and Farida [El Dahma] through Ansata Halim Shah and Layla through Hanan). The lines of Moniet El Nefous combine well with the lines present in *Bint Serra and *Bint Saada, since these mares all trace to the same Saklawiyah source of Ghazieh, so don't be so quick to dismiss the Babson blood, as they offer a rich, concentrated source of the same blood present in newer Egyptian breeding, albeit different branches.
For more information regarding Babson Horses, please check out the new book: THE BABSON INFLUENCE: A RETROSPECTIVE, soon to be published by The Institute for the Desert Arabian Horse (link to the site can be found to the right).
Enjoy your horses,
Ralph
The mare pictured in harness, in the opening photo is the lovely Roufah, an Ibn Fa Serr daughter out of Bah Roufa.