15 October, 2009

Kuhaylan Jellabi versus Saqlawi Jedran

"I could while away the hours, conferrin' with the flowers, consultin' with the rain...And my head I'd be scratchin', While my thoughts were busy hatchin', If I only had a brain."-the Scarecrow from the movie, The Wizard of Oz
Have you visited Edouard Al-Dahdah's blog, Daughter of the Wind? It is more than great reading, it is absolutely essential reading for any enthusiast of the Asil Arabian Horse. I strongly recommend this site to anyone who wants to expand their knowledge, regarding authentic desert breeding. I personally guarantee that you will leave his website, knowing a little more, than when you first clicked on his pages.

Edouard says that there are no Asil Kuhaylan Jellabi horses left, outside of the Kingdom of Bahrain. Edouard says that horses like *Fadl, *Maaroufa and their descendants are tail female Saqlawi Jedran strain horses. Edouard says that the last Asil Kuhaylan Jellabi horse was the 1911 mare, Kerbela (Ibn Yashmak x Kantara).

HUH?

In America, we have been taught, over the years, by people like Carl Raswan and Judi Forbis that the strain of Kuhaylan Jellabi is alive and well, thanks to Henry Babson and the mare he imported from Prince Mohamed Aly Tewfik's Manial Stud in 1932, *Maaroufa. As a matter of fact, if it were not for this mare, the strain of Kuhaylan Jellabi would be lost to Egyptian Arabian Horse breeders everywhere.

Michael Bowling, a geneticist and Crabbet/CMK Arabian Horse breeder in California, studied the mtDNA of the *Maaroufa horses, comparing and contrasting the DNA of these horses with the DNA of horses descended from Bint Helwa and also with the descendants of the mare, Jellabiyat Feysul. He wrote a wonderful article about his findings titled What's In a Name? Counting Doves a Century After They Hatch (PART ONE) and (PART TWO) which was originally published in the October 1998 issue of Arabian Visions.

SO, WHAT HAPPENED?

Michael Bowling determined that the mare, Bint Yemama (maternal grandmother of *Maaroufa) shares the same DNA with Mesaoud, the stallion whom the Blunts purchased from Ali Pasha Sherif and who revolutionised the program at Crabbet Park. The *Maaroufa descendants do not share the same DNA with Makbula , a mare who is a true descendant of Jellabiyat Feysul (her maternal great-great grandmother).
So, let's revisit the photograph of the straight Babson Egyptian horse, Fadl Dan (Fabah x Fada). In my recent blog post titled DIVERSITY, I said the following,
Of the three stallions, Fadl Dan is the only horse who physically embodies the characteristics that we accept as being from the Kuhaylan Jellabi strain. His silhouette was comprised of rounded lines, more substantial in body, muscular, wider chested, powerful shoulders, well-muscled forearms, a shorter, thicker, crestier neck and larger, rounder jowls. It is interesting that of all three horses, the source of Kuhaylan Jellabi is closer in his pedigree, than the other two horses, as *Fadl sired his father, his maternal grandfather and grandmother. I am not surprised by Fadl Dan's phenotype, as he is concentrated in the blood of the horses who sire this type of horse more consistently.
Looking at his phenotype, Fadl Dan does embody all of the physical characteristics for which we recognize as Kuhaylan strain. He is a robust horse, strongly masculine in his appearance, heavily muscled, his physique comprised of round, curvy lines; the kind of horse for which Raswan coined the term "3-circle horse". The physique of Fadl Dan is completely opposite of the phenotype which we have accepted for a Saqlawi horse, which is willowy, stretchy, with more "length" in the lines of the body than the compactness which we see present in Fadl Dan, whom by the way, we have always considered to be a true representative of his strain.

WHICH STRAIN?????????

All of our reference materials, be it photographs, videos and all of the scholarly research, published into book form, still recognizes the *Fadl and *Maaroufa horses as members of the Kuhaylan Jellabi strain, eleven years after Michael Bowling published his landmark findings. Eleven years later, we, me and you are still referring to these horses as Kuhaylan Jellabi.

For me, the problem is much bigger than just accepting that these horses are Saqlawi Jedran. For me, the problem points out that strain-to-phenotype is not a correct philosophy, as I once believed. What I once accepted as Kuhaylan strain characterisitics; I find now to be embodied in Saqlawi strain horses. In a breed which catalogues horses by the tail female strain, this news turns everything we understand upside down....which by the way, seems to be the position in which I find myself in, most of the time. I once read that CHANGE is what people fear most, even more so than death. I can understand that a little bit, as I try to embrace unfamiliar thoughts and make them part of my understanding and belief system.

Returning back to Fadl Dan, I believe that his phenotype has more to do with line-breeding so closely to *Fadl, who was similarly in phenotype to Fadl Dan. With 3 crosses to *Fadl, close up in his pedigree (*Fadl was his paternal grandsire and maternal great grand-sire and great-great grandsire), Fadl Dan's body build has more to do with *Fadl, than with Kuhaylan Jellabi or Saqlawi Jedran strain characteristics.

EnJoy your horses,
Ralph

PS Please visit Daughter of the Wind and the Michael Bowling articles on the CMK site, for more in-depth information about the subjects.

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