04 January, 2009

Just a pretty, little mare...

"Mr. Reid, you can't buy the quality you are looking for. You have to buy one of these and produce what you are wanting." -Homer Watson to Floyd Reid, August 1968

This story starts over forty-one years ago. Floyd Reid had traveled to Rancho San Ignacio, to look at the mares Raya del Sol (*Rashad Ibn Nazeer x *Bint Moniet el Nefous) and Faaraa (Faarad x *Binte el Bataa). He wanted to purchase either mare from Richard Pritzlaff and with high hopes, he and his wife set out for New Mexico, in search of their Egyptian dream. The mares were everything that Floyd imagined them to be and more, however, it was not meant to be. Sadly, they continued their search for a comparable Egyptian mare. This search led them to the Babson Farm. They saw many beautiful mares, equal or better than the Pritzlaff mares, unfortunately, all of the mares that he liked, were not for sale. In December of the same year, Floyd Reid visited Dr. Keith Krausnick of Shar-Char Farms in Lamar, Colorado. At the time, Dr. Krausnick was leasing the black stallion, Negem, from the Babson Farm. Shar-Char eventually produced 89 of Negem's 93 foals. With the disappointment of not being able to purchase the quality mare he desired at the Babson Farm, Dr. Krausnick suggested the chestnut mare, Sirhabba (Sirecho x Habba). Floyd's wife, Margaret, who has an artist's eye, was impressed by this "pretty mare" and after they had gone home, encouraged Floyd to consider her. While Floyd told me that Margaret was not a horse person, in the strictest sense of the word, he believes that artistically, Margaret found Sirhabba to be reminiscent of the mares that she had seen at Pritzlaff's ranch. Joe Ferriss saw Sirhabba in 1977 and he shared this description of her with me:

"..she had a very pretty, dry sculpted face. She was a rich medium chestnut, a bit of streaking in her mane. Most of her production were either black,black-bay or grey."
By the time that Floyd Reid had met Sirhabba, she was a proven broodmare, as she had already produced 5 colts and 2 fillies, for Shar-Char Farms:

1963: Sirgem (by Negem)
1964: Char Echo (by Negem)
1965: Char Rabdan (by Negem)
1966: Shar Gema (by Negem)
1967: Shar Gemla (by Negem)
1968: Char Sirab (by Fa-Serrab)

The stallion Char Echo was sold to the Atkinsons of Anchor Hill Farm. The Atkinsons produced a son, Anchor Hill Omar, who was exported to South Africa and became a National Champion riding horse. His daughter, Anchor Hill Annah was a United States National Top Ten Trail Horse. 
Char Echo was leased, later in his life by Joe Ferriss, who owned the beautiful Joramir daughter, Anchor Hill Jewel, out of Anchor Hill Serfa. Joe and his wife Sharon, are fans of the mare, Habba, ever since meeting her son, Lothar. Joe was kind enough to share his memory about Sirhabba's son, Char Echo:
"We leased Char Echo from Anchor Hill Ranch from the fall of 1980 to the fall of 1987 when he was a much older horse. He was absolutely a wonderful horse and of course a good proven sire even before we got him. He was a very Bedouin like horse. He had a long neck. Also his shoulders were very powerful with a high withers. I once measured his shoulder bone and it was the same size as my 15.1 hand gelding that I used to have. Char Echo was a trifle over 14 hands.He had the most intelligent and kind personality combined with a real peacock like quality as he loved to show off when presented in hand. What a splendid ride he was for a small horse, long powerful strides. He could do flying changes of lead just by leaning one way or the other. The more experienced the rider, the more noble and agile he was but put a small child on him and he was the most careful of horses. When breeding a mare, we would bring him out and he would talk and charm the mare but wait until we gave him the cue to mount. We could drop the lead line and wash him up in front of the mare, and he would wait until our cue. This is typical of how well the Atkinsons of Anchor Hill trained their horses. Lazelle Atkinson told us that they bought Char Echo in 1964 as a weanling along with two other Negem sons from Shar Char Farm. Anchor Hill raised and trained all three but kept only Char Echo as the best sire."
Lorriee Golanty, a long-time breeder of Arabian Horses named with the Midbar prefix also shared her memories regarding the Shar-Char breeding program:
I went to Colorado to buy a colt/filly from Rudalaro Arabians, and Mr. and Mrs. Perdue, took me to see the Char-Shar horses. I don't believe the Krausnicks were there at the time. My recollection of the horses, were pretty, many were on the bit small side, and most of the stallions, which I saw, did not have sufficient bone for my taste. However, I saw the use of the blood through the Atkinson's Anchor Hill Program and they had some very lovely horses.I did have some of the blood in my earlier horses, many of whom passed on without producing more than one generation for their purchasers, since they were asil but not straight egyptian. I owned the mare Kingdom's Maarfa,who produced four foals for me, all of Al Khamsa, Asil breeding. Although she was not a particularly eye catching mare, she had four stunning foals which were: Midbar Manon, Midbar Sorcerer,Midbar Radames, and Midbar Montegobay. Manon was a gorgeous filly and died before she was old enough to produce anything. The final three were beautiful colts and were all gelded, because the people who ended up with them, did not know what they had."
In February of 1969, Floyd Reid purchased Sirhabba, in foal to Fa-Serrab (Fabah x Serr Abba). Three months later, in May, Sirhabba produced the mare FaSerrabba. Floyd had admired the stallion, *Ansata Ibn Halima, for a long time, maybe since seeing the stallion for the first time, at Ansata in May of 1965. This meeting was so powerful of an event in the Reid's life, changing not only the way in which the Reids looked at Arabian Horses; but changing the course of their breeding program. Soon after seeing *Ansata Ibn Halima, Floyd dispersed his champion Arabian horses, including his National Top Ten stallion, Rahym, in favor of establishing an Egyptian breeding program, because of *Ansata Ibn Halima. I had asked Floyd why he wanted to breed to *Ansata Ibn Halima and he said,
"We had attended and shown at the Arabian National Championships, eight years in Colorado and four years in Oklahoma by the time we bought Sirhabba. I had never seen a "better" horse."
It is significant that in his search for just the right Egyptian mare to breed to this stallion, that Floyd chose Sirhabba. Well, what did Floyd really think of Sirhabba and why did he think that she would be a good match for *Ansata Ibn Halima. Floyd shared the following:
"When we returned with the trailer and I 'first' looked at Sirhabba, I was satisfied, she was a pretty, little mare. She was in foal to a nice stallion, Fa-Serrab, and I saw no glaring faults that I thought would fail to blend with *Ansata Ibn Halima."
I asked Floyd of his expectations or rather, his goals, when he bred Sirhabba to *Ansata Ibn Halima. He told me,
"All that I wanted was to get a couple of pretty, grey mares out of *Ansata Ibn Halima x Sirhabba."
And so, he bred Sirhabba to *Ansata Ibn Halima not once but twice, producing the mare Sirhalima first and the stallion, AK Sirhalima second. While Floyd retained the mare FaSerrabba, he eventually sold Sirhabba, together with her *Ansata Ibn Halima progeny to Bentwood Farms in 1972. He took the mare, FaSerrabba to Ansata el Sherif, to produce the mare Fa Sherifaa (see an earlier entry titled, THE THREE SHERIFAS).

Sirhabba, now at Bentwood Farm, was exclusively bred to *Ibn Moniet el Nefous, to produce 2 colts and 2 fillies:

1973: AK Sirmoniet (colt)
1975: AK Monahabba (filly)
1976: AK Nasaar (colt)
1977: AK Bint Sirhabba (filly)

While Floyd owned more horses than just Sirhabba and the progeny she produced under his ownership; I find it extremely fascinating that one man's dream, one man's pretty, little mare was to become the cornerstone for many more dreams, beyond Floyd's pastures. Sirhabba would also play a pivotal role in my life too. Late in 2008, I finally purchased Princeton Maarena, a daughter of Princeton Gamila, who was a Faaris daughter out of the 1967 Sirhabba daughter, Shar Gemla. Joe Ferriss saw Shar Gemla in person and told me the following:
"In my opinion Shar Gemla was probably Sirhabba's most overall best daughter. She was of high quality and very balanced and feminine but still full of that old world, curvy look. It is no wonder that Wayne Newton wanted her for his broodmare band. She was a mare anyone could love."

Little did Floyd Reid understand at the time he purchased Sirhabba, how he was to become the catalyst for this line of horses, insuring that this unique branch of the *Bint Bint Sabbah family would go well beyond the limits of Shar-Char Farms and prosper; while providing the horses that would enable this line to be bred in ways he could never have imagined. Or how his own life with Sirhabba would come full circle, thirty-seven years later. Floyd at one time, had well-earned the title of best small breeder of his time, producing horses who would become "foundation quality" horses for other Egyptian Arabian Horse breeders. Lisa Lacy also shared similar sentiments,

"Floyd was lucky to have bred to Ibn Halima and to have had some good Babson and Babson/Sirecho mares. It would be nice to have some of those back!"
Fast forward to the present, which now finds Floyd Reid, together with Clothilde Nollet of France purchasing Princeton Maarena's only daughter, SunnyRu Maarena, sired by Mari Silveus' Princeton Faaris. In a letter to Don Austin, Floyd offered,

"Don, during the past three months, I have become rejuvenated in my fascination with Egyptian breeding."
I understand Floyd's enthusiasm, over the opportunity to reconnect with a mare that has so much significance in his life. A mare that helped establish Floyd as a strong breeder of fine horses. I feel his joy and am grateful for it.

AK Sirhalima, the black stallion that was also known as Al Karim Sirhalima, eventually traveled far, far away from Waco, Texas to Australia and sired many horses there, pushing Sirhabba's influence further and farther away. Demelza Hoogeveen of New Zealand noticed the similarities between AK Sirhalima and Char Echo,

"The length and curvy shape of Char Echo's neck reminds me of his maternal brother AK Sirhalima, which makes me wonder if this trait was gifted from their mother?"
Which is a very interesting and perceptive statement, as Joe Ferriss, who saw both horses and was very intimately connected with Char Echo also made the following statement,
"Char Echo and AK Sirhalima were quite a bit similar to each other."
Lorriee Golanty, voiced a similar opinion, in agreement with the observations which Joe and Demelza offered,
"I own a daughter of AK Sirhalima by the name of FA Summer Star. This mare has one of the longest, prettiest necks, I've seen in any Arabian. She is a small mare, registered bay, but looks black to me, and she has this lovely lovely palm branch neck, which one does not see too often."
Eventually, AK Sirhalima returned to the USA and was owned by Paolo Gucci, siring horses with the "G" prefix. It was very comforting for me personally, that AK Sirhalima, in his last years, was owned by Marilyn Lang of Fantasia Arabians in Sealy, Texas. She was very impressed with the horse and remembered,
"In Australia, AK Sirhalima was called the 'Cocky Little Bantum Rooster'. He stood 14.2 hands but when he came out of his stall, he grew to 16 hands. The most all-boy stallion I have ever owned. His semen was 75% motility at the age of 24. Extremely virile and a ton of libido. SH came to live out his years at my farm after being nearly starved to death in the Gucci mess. I think the only reason he survived was because he had such a strong will to live. When he came off the van, you could literally lay two or three fingers between each rib but he was prancing and screaming to all the mares, 'The Cocky Little Bantam Rooster' has arrived. His eyes were I think the largest eyes I have ever seen on any Arab. They were truly golf ball size. He had a long arched neck with a super clean throat latch and a beautiful dished face. He was a little long in the back but I have always felt that when a horse has such a long, long neck, they are going to be a little long in the back as it puts the whole body in balance. He was the sire of many champions, both halter and performance, worldwide. SH lived to be 25 and is buried in our stallion pasture. We were delighted to have him grace our farm, even though the time was short."
Marilyn's program is focused on several horses who blend well together: Babson/Halima/Sirecho/Bukra. Her farm was home to significant horses like Fa Daalim, whose tail female line to the Babson Saqlawiyah mare, *Bint Serra, was rapidly disappearing in the Egyptian breeding pool. AK Sirhalima could not have fit more perfectly elsewhere. Marilyn already owned FaSerrabba's daughter by Ansata El Sherif, Fa Sherifaa and was able to breed her to AK Sirhalima and produce the exquisite mare: Bint Fa Sherifaa. This spring, Marilyn will have the opportunity to incorporate the bloodlines of Sirhabba, from a different source, that of Shar Gemla, combined with the blood of Faaris and Serr Maariner. Marilyn has leased the mare Princeton Maarena and will breed her to her El Halimaar son, Fa Halii Halim, whose tail female line is also Sirhabba. We are both excited over the possible end results. It is easy to look back at the history of Sirhabba and dream of the endless possibilities, as the Egyptian Arabian Horse world was a sparkling diamond, when Sirhabba was alive. In the end, we can thank Floyd for breeding her in the manner he so shrewdly chose.*Ansata Ibn Halima nicked well with Sirhabba and produced her most beautiful offspring, in my opinion, and in turn, her progeny have very slowly pushed her influence forward into the future, to where we find ourselves today.

Recently, I purchased a new book, Training the Horse In Hand by Alfons J. Dietz. It is a great book, teaching the classical Iberian principles of working horses in hand. In the foreword, Mr. Dietz shares that he is a Buddhist and offers the following principle to his readers,
"never separate your soul from love and compassion."
It is as if Mr. Dietz knew Floyd Reid personally and his search for a classic Egyptian Arabian mare. A pretty, little mare...Sirhabba's influence continues to produce inspiration for Egyptian Arabian Horse breeders like Marilyn Lang, whose farm provided a home and a safe haven for the progeny of this pretty, little mare. One mare and one man, from such modest beginnings, never losing the ability to dream. This is the power of this breed...this is the power of a horse...this is the power of dreams which were believed and acted upon, rewarded and celebrated forever. Your pretty, little mare and my pretty, little mare make a great big world seem suddenly smaller, as we realize that the earth we stand upon is common ground, built on a foundation of a love as strong as the universe.
"you beautiful baby from the outside in,
Chase your dreams but always know the road
that'll lead you home again
Go on, take on this whole world
But to me you know, you'll always be my little girl.."-from the song, My Little Girl, written by Tom Douglas and Tim McGraw
You did well Sirhabba, your life continues as sweetly as you lived it. I am grateful for your life, my sweet girl.

Enjoy your horses,

For more information on horses like Sirhabba, please visit the archived entries titled, RINGING THE BELLE FOR *BINT BINT SABBAH and THE THREE SHERIFAS

The chestnut mare pictured at the top is Princeton Maarena, photographed by Christine Emmert. The black-bay stallion pictured is Char Echo, with Tzviah Idan of Israel astride, photographed by Joe Ferriss. The black stallion under saddle is AK Sirhalima as photographed by Pat Slater.

Many thanks to Floyd Reid, Lisa Lacy, Joe Ferriss, Lorriee Golanty, Christine Emmert, Demelza Hoogeveen and Marilyn Lang for sharing their memories and perspectives with me, to honor this mare, Sirhabba.


LMG said...

This is an excellant historical perspective of some of these older lines and equine individuals. It is all too common that later breeders and owners, have not had the opportunity to have seen the foundation animals of their present horses, only descendants several generations on.

Congratulations for making the information available to
those who will appreciate the time travel.


Seglavi said...

What a great article, beautiful pictures and quite a tribute to the breeders of old with foresight and the "eye" for a wonderful and important horse and group of horses.
Pam Studebaker