21 April, 2015

The Horse of Sheikhs

"His small ears were pricked, catching the strange sounds from the other animals. His fine head was held high. His every sense was alert. Every muscle, every sinew was ready to be unleashed with the power and swiftness of a coiled steel spring. The Black was all horse." - from The Horse Tamer by Walter Farley.
This young stallion is Thettwa Ezzain, bred by Mr. Usamah Alkazemi, of the world famous Ezzain Arabians, a fabulous breeding farm located in Kuwait. His sire is NK Qaswarah (NK Hafid Jamil x NK Nariman) and his dam is Albaheiah Ezzain (Nooreddine Ezzain x NK Nakeebya). I love the shape and length of Thettwa's neck, which has a beautiful underline and when meets the head, the angle adds length to the poll. His lines are actually circular, very smooth and flow gracefully into each other. There is harmony and balance present in the horse we see. He has longer, muscled forearms and short cannon bones, which are becoming increasingly more difficult to find these days. He is compact, with a smooth and strong top line, balanced below with a well-sprung rib cage. He is very correct. 

Have you ever heard the saying, "let the sire of the sire be the grandsire of the dam?" In the early 1950's, Lloyd Brackett, one of the founding fathers of the German Shepherd dog in the United States, popularized a long known breeding formula, used in breeding everything from Thoroughbred race horses to Holstein cattle to prize winning sheep. Lloyd Bracket did much to clear the confusion and misunderstanding of line and inbreeding and in the process, he bred over 90 champions. So this saying, "Let the sire of the sire be also the maternal grandsire of the dam" is forever known as Brackett's formula. In the pedigree of Thettwa Ezzain, the stallion, NK Hafid Jamil is the sire of NK Qaswarah, Thettwa's sire, as well as the grandsire of Albaheiah Ezzain, Thettwa's dam. 

When I visited Ezzain Arabians two years ago, I slowly realized that my favorite horses all shared common ground in Ansata AlMurtajiz. A son of Ansata Hejazi out of Ansata Samsara, it was not important whether Murtajiz appeared as a sire, grandsire or even great-grandsire; what became more important to me is the presence of Ansata AlMurtajiz in the pedigree. In Thettwa's pedigree, Ansata AlMurtajiz is the sire of Nooreddine, the sire of Albaheiah. I value Murtajiz's influence and the qualities he passes onto his get, most notably the size and shape of the skull and the placement of the ears, as well as the structure of the eye socket which enables these horses to possess some of the most beautiful eyes seen in the breed: very black, luminous and very large, set lower in the head. 

When I saw the dam of Thettwa, Albaheiah Ezzain, for the first time, I felt like someone had hit me and all the air was driven out of me. I felt light-headed and feared the embarrassment of fainting in the presence of men whom I had never met before. I knew that the mare was beautiful and had traveled thousands of miles to see her. I was not disappointed, as she was more beautiful than I could have ever imagined her to be. I had to get closer and look at her, I could no longer remain seated. While Thettwa is black as the night, Albaheiah is as radiant white as sunshine falling on new fallen snow. She is a taller mare with much substance but very refined, graceful and elegant. She has very fine, black skin which accentuates every line, every curve in her fabulous body. Her muzzle is very much like her paternal grandsire with elastic nostrils that become enormous, while moving. She is smooth and strong over her top line and her tail carriage is extreme, with the tail carried like a flag, away from her body. Most people dream of horses that look like Albaheiah does and unfortunately, never meet them. I am one of the luckier people who can say that I not only saw a horse like this once but meeting her was so profound, that I cannot continue to look at horses in the same way. As beautiful as Albaheiah is, one must stop to acknowledge her very interesting pedigree and the close relationship between the stallion, Nooreddine Ezaain and the mare, NK Nakeebya, her sire and dam. Albaheiah, through both her sire and dam, traces to the mare Nashua, a Salaa el Dine-sired daughter out of Lotfeia, who also became an important broodmare for Katharinenhof, having produced the stallion Nejdy as well as Nashua. Both Nooreddine and Nakeebya are grand progeny of Nashua, as Nooreddine is out of the Nashua daughter named Nada (by Adnan) and Nakeebya is out of the Nashua daughter named Nabilah (by Nahaman). To further underscore how closely related Nooreddine and Nakeebya are, both sires of the Nashua daughters, Nahaman and Adnan, are also Salaa el Dine sons. Nahaman is out of Ameera (Madkour I x Hanan), while Adnan is out of Ghazala (Ghazal x Hanan). Hanan is common ground for both horses.The difference between Nahaman and Adnan comes down to only two horses-Madkour and Ghazal. And with Ghazal being the sire of Moheba II, the dam of Madkour I, is there really a difference genetically between these two horses?

Going back to Lloyd Brackett and his breeding theories, he understood the value of using high quality dogs who were related to each other. He understood very clearly the type he wanted to reproduce in his dogs and by concentrating  genes and exercising very strict selection, he could breed the traits he desired with much consistency. He was not fond of outcrossing and he said, "Never outcross when things seem to be going well, do it only as an experiment or when some fault or faults cannot be eliminated." While Lloyd Brackett was focused on breeding his own unique strain of German Shepherd dogs; Usamah Alkazemi is equally passionate about breeding the most beautiful Arabian horses.

Another point that I would like to add is NK Qaswarah's ability to sire color. This is a significant point. While he is gray in color and even when bred to gray mares, he has produced a good number of bay-colored horses and like Thettwa, the more elusive black color. Thettwa is one of three black horses at Ezzain, the other two horses are Ekramilbari and Alttafilbari. In everything we know about the Bedouin, we understand that the Bedouins preferred darker colored horses over lighter colored horses and of the dark colors, the black horse was their favorite, followed by the dark bay and then, the dark chestnut. The black horse was so highly regarded by the Bedouin that only the Sheikhs rode the black horses. 

Thettwa is the best of his dam, enhanced by the unique qualities of his sire. Even with that said, it is challenging to look at this horse and not recognize the impact made by Ansata AlMurtajiz and just maybe, even farther back in the pedigree, the legendary sire, *Ansata Ibn Halima. Thettwa, in my personal opinion is very much like him, especially in the outline or silhouette of his body. Over the years, we have been taught to recognize this phenotype as Dahman by the scholars of our breed, most notably, Carl Raswan and Judith Forbis. Perhaps the multiple sources of Dahman blood in the pedigree have something to do with this? Although he is a Hadban strain horse by pedigree, Thettwa is the ultimate representation of the Dahman horse, in very modern form. 

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