Such are the legends that have been told, over hundreds of years, of the bloody-shouldered Arabian Horse. What is a bloody-shouldered Arabian Horse you may ask? Look to the picture of Al Nahr Montego and observe the reddish markings over his neck, withers and back (he also had them over his hindquarter). These markings are referred to as "bloody shoulders" and like the "Medicine Hat" found in pinto and paint colored horses, there are stories concerning the origin of the markings. One legend says that the horse carried its wounded owner on his back, over many miles, never stopping to drink or eat, until the horse arrived safely at the home of the owner. Another legend says that the horse was actually a foal, born while the owner was raiding the camp of an enemy. The foal could not keep up during the escape, so the owner of the mare, desperate to escape, attempted to kill the foal, thrusting a spear through the foal's shoulder and leaving the foal for dead. The foal never died and following his mother's scent, makes it back to the camp of the owner and is reunited with his dam. In both legends, the horse is marked forever with the stain of the blood, signifying the strength, courage, beauty and exceptional quality of the horse.
What would it feel like to have a companion who loves you this much, that he would risk death or danger to be in your company?
"The tin soldier melted, all in a lump. The next day, when a servant took up the ashes, she found him in the shape of a little tin heart."-from The Steadfast Tin Soldier by Hans Christian AndersenAl Nahr Montego was a bloody shouldered stallion, sired by *Ibn Moniet El Nefous and out of the Babson mare, Bint Fada. He was bred by Jay Stream of Green Gate Farm and subsequently purchased by Paul Hassel.
I didn't know Al Nahr Montego well enough to be able to say with any kind of certainty that this horse was like the horses of the legend. However, I know that Paul Hassel loved the horse and there are stories of Paul, on his tractor, with Al Nahr Montego, the horse that was bred for him, tied behind the tractor, jogging all over the farm. Al Nahr Montego was advertised heavily in the 1970's, his picture appearing in all the Arabian Horse publications of the day. His conformation was hauntingly similar to the conformation of the Babson horses, maybe with a little more "stretch" or a little more "leg" to create the look of a modern day Arabian show horse. Al Nahr Montego was competitive in American show rings, as he qualified and was a US National halter horse.
Al Nahr Montego was exported to Israel in the early eighties, to Yochanon Merhav, the manager of Golan Horse Breeding. Yochanon called Al Nahr Montego his "dream horse" and with the help of Tzviah Idan, Yochanon was able to finally realize his dream. Al Nahr Montego was one of the first American straight Egyptian horses to arrive in Israel. He was different from the Israeli Arabians of the day, more of a modern horse, a show horse type, stretchy and leggy and Yochanon provided many opportunities to Al Nahr Montego as a sire. Crossed on a variety of bloodlines, Al Nahr Montego's best offspring were out of Crabbet mares like African Minx (African Gold x Meshel) who produced mares like Golan Montega (the chestnut mare pictured)and Golan Montgomery;
while Farazdoll, a *Farazdac daughter out of Amorette (an *Aramus daughter) produced horses like Montegodoll and Golan Al Faraz (the grey horse pictured). The foals sired by Al Nahr Montego dominated the show rings in Israel, as other breeders felt the same way too about Montego. Paul Hassel had also used Al Nahr Montego on general list horses and felt his best foals were out of these mares, as these Montego-sired horses matured and dominated the local Florida futurities.
Yochanon eventually bred Golan Ghazlan out of Ruminaja Ghezala, a Shaikh Al Badi daughter out of Zarette, an Egyptian/Crabbett cross mare. This was the first Israeli-bred horse to go to Europe and compete in the Salon du Cheval, winning a top ten for owner Amos Dabush.
The siring career of Al Nahr Montego, right up until his death in the mid-90's, was approximately 190 horses, in 2 countries. While the majority of horses sired were not straight Egyptian, There were straight Egyptian horses produced like the stallion PH Ibn Tego (out of the mare Noufina, who also produced PH Safina, the dam of BB Ora Kalilah, who eventually produced Imperial Baarez). There were also crosses back into Babson breeding like the PH Monletta (out of the Babson mare Roulett) and PH Monsabba Su (out of the Babson mare Fa El Sabba). In Israel, out of the Pritzlaff mare, Solieta, Montego sired Golan Soleil and Golan Soltega.
What I also found interesting is that in both America and Israel, Al Nahr Montego was crossed with *Turfa-bred mares, to produce horses like Montia, PH Mon-Gina, PH Monlove and PH Mongina Maria to name a few. While not straight Egyptian, these are Asil horses, as they completely trace in all lines to Bedouin-bred horses.
Golan Horse Breeding eventually dispersed and as the years went by, the appreciation for Al Nahr Montego became less and less, like the appreciation for horses of other lines which are slowly disappearing from our community. In the case of Al Nahr Montego, his influence is becoming rare, similar to the markings that he so proudly carried in his life. I hope that someday soon, someone will find a Montego horse and return the loyalty and devotion of the bloody shoulders, back to the horse.
EnJoy your horses,
*****Many thanks to Ceilidh for reading this blog and asking about Al Nahr Montego's siring career in Israel and to my friends, Tzviah Idan and Chen Kedar for not only talking with me about Al Nahr Montego and sharing their memories, but also to Chen for the wonderful pictures of "Tego" and his progeny.*****