26 December, 2009

A Love Song for a Queen

Maar Bilahh died last week, on December 19th. She was 25 years old.

The sweet-faced daughter of El Halimaar and Bint Nabilahh (Farasha's daughter, Nabilahh, produced Bint by the stallion *Morafic), Maar Bilahh was bred by the Cruz family of Rancho Bulakenyo and was purchased by Barbara Griffith of Imperial Egyptian Stud. In an interview with Nancy C. Ryan of Arabian Horse World, Jody Cruz said,
"...my father was able to buy some amazing horses, he bought a 'barren mare' named Bint Nabilahh for nearly nothing and when she arrived, she was pregnant by Shaikh Al Badi. We then bred her to our stallion, El Halimaar and she produced a filly named Maar Bilahh, who kind of won the world over."
She was an Egyptian Event Supreme Champion Mare, an East Cost Champion Mare, a Region 15 Champion Mare, a U.S. Top Ten Futurity Mare, an Israeli National Champion mare and a Middle East Reserve Champion mar
"You're beautiful. You're beautiful.
You're beautiful, it's true.
I saw your face in a crowded place,
And I don't know what to do,
'Cause I'll never be with you.”-from the song, You’re Beautiful, written by James Blunt, Sacha Skarbek and Amanda Ghost
When she was sold to Ariela, I knew that I would never see her again and my heart broke, to think of it. I loved the mare very much and in my fantasy day-dreaming, I thought that I would be able to one day buy her. Already a successful broodmare at Imperial Egyptian Stud, the beautiful foals that Maar Bilahh would eventually produce in Israel, made her absence a little more tolerable. In America, she produced by Imperial Madheen, the stallion Imperial Mahzeer (who eventually became the herd sire for Al Nasser Stud in Qatar and sired Bint Saida El Nasser, the 2002 Reserve World Champion Mare at the Salon du Cheval) and the mare, Imperial Mahzeera who produced the full brother and sister by Imperial Al Kamar, the grey stallion, Badraan Al Majid and the bay mare, Medallela. Before being exported to Belgium, she also produced full siblings by *Simeon Sachi (Asfour x Simeon Sheba): Melissa Al Atiq and Mishaal Al Atiq. Also in America, by *Orashan, she produced the mare, Imperial Orbillah, who produced 3 stallions (MB Talmaar, MB Talman and MB Tamaal, all by the Amaal son, Talmaal) and MB Bilaza, a daughter by the Ruminaja Ali son, Anaza el Nizr. In Israel, by Imperial Imdal, she produced a daughter, Mar-Halla and two sons, Mahbub (2000 Israeli Reserve National Champion Stallion) and Muhajjal (1997 and 2000 Israeli Reserve National Champion Colt). The mare Mar-Halla has foaled two mares, Maar Silahh by El Thay Mashour (Madkour I x El Thay Bint Kamla) and Mar-Hiba by NK Hafid Jamil. Mar-Hiba has already produced a colt, Ibn Kamaahr by Kamaahr (Al Maraam x Imperial Kalatifa). By Al Maraam, she produced a son, Al Safir AA (who sired the successful stallion, Al Hakim) and by Al Ayad, she produced her last filly, Maar Miri AA, who is pictured with Maar Bilahh in the photo.

"Maybe I can go to Ariela Arabians in Israel and visit her?" were thoughts that crossed my mind, from time-to-time. Even though the reality of owning such a horse was not realistic, just knowing that she was alive and being a good mother to her babies was comforting. But now, she is really gone, forever and no matter what happens; even if I am able to go to Israel, I will never be able to see Maar Bilahh again. I will never see her at any gate, her left foreleg lifted in anticipation and her ears pricked forward, in anticipation of the human that was coming to visit her and shower her with affection. I will never be able to wrap my arms around her neck and squeeze her as hard as I could and hear the happy, little grunt that she made. I will never feel the weight of her head on my shoulder, as I proceeded to scratch her on her wither. She really loved people. If my jacket pocket was large enough, she would have jumped into it.
"Memory is a way of holding onto the things you love, the things you are, the things you never want to lose." -From the television show, The Wonder Years
The Queen is gone and she has taken a little piece of the hearts of all who knew and loved her. She was not a tall horse but yet, she had a lot of substance. In her company, the combination of her personality and her beautiful type was enchanting. The following photo of Maar Bilahh, as the Israeli National Champion mare, shows her in superb show condition (I want to remember her like this):

I wrote to Chen, as soon as I learned the news because I knew how much she loved Maar Bilahh and how sad she must feel over her death. If there was one person who would understand how I feel about Maar Bilahh, it would be Chen:
"...Now, her stall is empty and I have a big hole in my heart. I really miss this old lady. She had a part in my life for the last 15 years and was the horse who has been here the longest with me at Ariela Arabians. I'm doing my best to remember that she had very good life, always with the people who loved her."
Her legacy will continue, through her sons, daughters, grandsons and granddaughters, thanks to Ariela, who recognized the potential of this very special horse. Your presence made life so much better "Marbie" and while I will miss you, I know that you will live on in your progeny. They will keep your memory alive and remind the world what a special mare you were. And maybe, sometime in the near future, I will have "my own private Marbie" to love and cherish.
“Have you ever been in love? Horrible isn't it? It makes you so vulnerable. It opens your chest and it opens up your heart and it means that someone can get inside you and mess you up."-Neil Gaiman
Good-bye Maar Bilahh...it was very good to know you,

03 May, 2009


I have always wondered over the desire to have someone in our life who cares for us...I mean really loves us. It is a very strong need we feel, to be wanted. We want to know that we matter and that we have significance in another's life. No matter how ugly we may become, this person or animal remains faithful to us, devoted to us, in spite of all our faults; this individual remains steadfast in their loyalty. So special is this quality, it is rare and in its scarcity, exceedingly precious and very much esteemed. It is a gift, once you experience it, never to be forgotten.

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 Andersen
Al 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.*****

02 March, 2009


Over 52 years ago, Nellie Jackson foaled a striking filly out of her beautiful *Maaroufa daughter, Maarou, bred by the Babson Farm. Nellie Jackson had looked forward to this filly, sired by Fasaab, a son of *Fadl and *Bint Bint Sabbah and her patience, was well rewarded, as Maar-Ree was every bit as beautiful as one would have hoped for.

Who do you think of, when you think of an influential mare? You know, mares who have established strong, enduring and vibrant families, which remain critically relevant to the present day?

I think of Maar-Ree.

I find it amazing, when studying Maar-Ree's pedigree, that the majority of the pedigree is mainly two horses: Ibn Rabdan and Mahroussa. As a matter of fact, 62.5% of the pedigree is these 2 horses, via their son and daughter: *Fadl and *Maaroufa. Is it really Maar-Ree's continuing influence or rather, the influence of the 1920 mare Mahroussa? Aside from producing *Fadl and *Maaroufa, this Mabrouk Manial daughter, out of the mare, Negma, also produced the stallion *Zarife (by Ibn Samhan) and the mares *Hamama (by Kawkab) and *Hamida (by *Nasr), all of which were influential in American Arabian breeding programs.

Maar-Ree produced 6 daughters, who are: Maar Jumana, a 1962 bay daughter sired by the Babson stallion, Disaan, Maar-Juahara, a 1972 grey daughter by *Ibn Moniet el Nefous, a 1974 daughter RDM Maar Halima, a 1974 bay daughter by El Hilal, MFA Maariia Isis, a 1977 grey daughter sired by The Egyptian Prince, MFA Maet, a 1978 grey daughter, again by The Egyptian Prince and MFA Bint Maarree, a 1981 grey daughter, again sired by El Hilal. Although more influential through her daughters than her sons, Maar-Ree produced 7 sons, among which are the bay stallion Maar-Khaliq in 1969 by *Ibn Moniet el Nefous and the 1980 bay stallion, MFA Bahahr by The Egyptian Prince.

So which is your favorite branch of the Maar-Ree family? This is a very difficult question to answer, as the above mares, although closely related, produced differently from each other, with stunning results.

In Maar Jumana, you can find the reason for which I questioned whose influence is really at work in this family: Maar-Ree or that of her great-granddam, Mahroussa? A daughter of Disaan, this straight Babson Egyptian stallion contributes 50% of Mahroussa blood, through her son, *Fadl. Disaan accomplishes 2 things with his daughter Maar Jumana that the other stallions bred to Maar-Ree could not do: the percentage of Mahroussa remains well over 50% in Maar Jumana and he preserves the influence of Maar-Ree, in straight Babson Egyptian form. Maar Jumana produced the full sisters by Maar-Rab: Maar-Malika and Maar-Kamala. However, it is her daughter by El Hilal, RDM Maar Hala, which makes this branch of the Maar-Ree family particularly exciting as RDM Maar Hala accomplishes something that Maar-Ree was not able to do. RDM Maar Hala was an incredible stallion producer, having produced the stallions: El Halimaar, ET Crown Prince, Prince Ibn Shaikh, Halim El Mansour, Maar Ibn ALi, Maar Ibn Amaal and Maar Ibn Shaikh.


In a tribute article for this most wonderful mare, authored by Honi Roberts, Cynthia Culbertson who was present at the breeding which resulted in El Halimaar, fondly remembers,
"I remember thinking that something extraordinary was bound to come of the joining of two of the most beautiful Arabians in the world."
Had RDM Maar Hala only produced El Halimaar, her greatness would have been assured forever. However, in her later years, RDM Maar Hala was bred to her son, El Halimaar to produce the exciting contemporary breeding stallion, Haliluyah MH. She did produce nice daughters and her daughter (by the *Morafic son, Al Metrabbi) Maartrabbi, when bred to the Salaa El Dine son, Crusader, produced the excellent horse, Maarauder MH. So, RDM Maar Hala, as a grand-dam, continues her influence for producing horses of great influence, through the sire line.

It is a bittersweet wonder to me, after witnessing these accomplishments with new Egyptian stallions, that Maar Jumana was not preserved in straight Egyptian Babson form, at least once, to continue the legacy that has been handed-off through the generations, from Mahroussa to *Maaroufa, from *Maaroufa to Maarou and from Maarou to Maar-Ree.

It is also interesting to watch from the sidelines and reflect on how this family of horses will continue to prosper and in which form. This is the beauty of a powerful family and the treasures that are uncovered, as the years pass.

EnJoy your horses,

***Many thanks to Jane Karr, for reading this blog and asking about Maar-Ree. This is dedicated to you.***

01 March, 2009

Jurneeka: An Egyptian Queen

Khemosabi++++ is the most beloved of all Arabian Horses and the most widely recognized Arabian Stallion, by name, in our world community. What most people don't know is that Khemosabi had a high percentage of Egyptian Arabian blood flowing in his veins. Egyptian? Yes, that's right. The source of the Egyptian bloodlines? His dam, Jurneeka.

Jurneeka, foaled in 1958, was a daughter of Fadjur and out of the mare, Fadneeka. Both Fadjur and Fadneeka were sired by Fadheilan, a *Fadl son. This horse, Fadheilan is the source of the Egyptian blood present in Jurneeka's and in her son, Khemosabi's pedigree, as Fadheilan is half-Egyptian. Henry Babson imported the stallion, *Fadl, bred by Prince Mohamed Aly Tewfik in Egypt. Six years after importing *Fadl, in 1938, Henry Babson also imported a group of Arabian Horses from Poland. In this importation was the mare, *Kasztelanka. Bred to *Fadl, she produced this stallion, Fadheilan.

Jurneeka was a versatile and talented mare. She was a great ambassador for the Arabian breed.
The photograph shows her in Dallas, Texas, 1964, winning the US National Reserve title in English Pleasure with Jeff Wonnell riding her. John Rogers, the owner of *Serafix, is standing next to Jurneeka. In addition to winning the English Pleasure reserve, Jurneeka was also the reserve Western Pleasure horse, in the same year. She was a beautiful mare, embodying the standard of a classic Arabian mare. Jurneeka was rewarded for her beauty, as she was also a US top ten mare in 1963, as well as a Canadian top ten mare, multiple times. At the Scottsdale show, in 1963, Jurneeka attracted the attention of the Husbands, who eventually purchased her from Jeff Wonnell, setting the stage for the superstar horse that was Khemosabi.

Jurneeka produced 8 foals, 5 of which were champions: Jurdino (by Regis), Per Se (by *Bask), El Paso Grande (by *El Paso), Conquest and Khemosabi (both by Amerigo). However, it was Khemosabi, with almost 1300 offspring sired, who spread the influence of this American Egyptian Queen, farther and wider than anyone could have ever imagined in the 1960's.


***Many thanks to Jane Karr, for reading this blog and asking about the great Khemosabi. This is dedicated to you.***

07 February, 2009

Bedouin Beauty: Jibbah

What is a Jibbah? Have you heard or read this word and wondered what it means?

Do you think Jibbah means this?

This is J-A-B-B-A the Hutt from Star Wars.
Is this what you think a jibbah looks like? It can't be this. The Jibbah is not ugly, it's pretty.

Let's try again.

Is this the Jibbah?

This Jibbah is the traditional monastic robe of the Maronites.

Okay, so if that robe was not a Jibbah, is the following tunic a Jibbah?

Well, this is a Jibbah, a uniform worn by soldiers of the Dervish Army in EGYPT, around 1885. However, the Jibbah is not something to be worn. And all kidding aside,  it is time to get to the serious business of the Jibbah. Touch your forehead. Yes, you, touch it right now. Rub your hands all over your forehead. Remember this feeling, it is important. This is your Jibbah.

The JIBBAH is the Bedouin term for a prominent FOREHEAD.

Only the forehead.

Major R.D Upton, in his book, Gleanings from the Desert of Arabia, stated the following,

"The Jibbah, or forehead, can scarcely be too large or too prominent to please an Arab... The shape of the Jibbah in which the Arab delights, gives a large brain cavity, adds greatly to the beauty of the head, and gives an expression of great nobility."

Not all, but quite a few Arabians are born with a bulging forehead, between the eyes. The bulge can be slight or it can be extraordinary in size. For many foals, the extreme features of the prominent forehead have more to do with babyhood and I have found over the years, that as the foals mature, the Jibbah reduces in size. Over the years, many explanations have been given for the presence of this bulging forehead, however, none of these explanations are based on scientific fact. For example, it was accepted that horses with prominent Jibbahs had a greater sinus capacity, which helped the horse survive in the dry, desert climate of its homeland. Some said that the Jibbah gave the horse greater sensitivity and the ability to locate water in the dry desert. Or the Jibbah was a sign of greater intelligence in the horse, as the bulging forehead indicated a larger brain size, as compared to horses without the prominent forehead. The Bedouins believed that the bulging forehead held holy blessings, gifted by Allah, upon the horse. The more prominent the forehead, the more blessings received from Allah. I am not sure if this belief encouraged the breeding of more horses with a Jibbah, as the Bedouin breeder chased the favor of God and His blessings, in the hope of a closer and deeper relationship with Him. However, the presence of a Jibbah in many of our horses can very easily lead me to make this blessed assumption. Kees Mol once said,
"For far too long the Arabian horse and its origins have been clouded in romantic myths, many of them embroidered in the West for commercial reasons. Lack of knowledge of the complex history of the Middle East, together with a lack of understanding of its people and their way of life, have made these myths, which still cloud modern thinking, being so lightly accepted in the west.”

So what is fact or fiction? Was the Jibbah a characteristic that was shaped by the environment, enabling the Arabian Horse to not only survive but prosper in a harsh climate? Or was the Jibbah a characteristic that was selectively bred by the Bedouin? Let's use this point of the discussion to clarify that "Jibbah" is not the same as the characteristic we have come to call and accept as "dish". So, "dish" is not "Jibbah" and "Jibbah" is not "dish". However, without the Jibbah, the dish may not be a dish at all. I think it is time for another visual.
Right now, touch your nose.
Yes, you, please touch your nose.
Rub your hands all over your nose, across the front, the sides and a little bit on each cheek, where it meets the nose.
Remember this feeling, it's important that you do, because this is your dish.

So, here is the straight Egyptian mare, Princeton Maarena, to show you an extreme Jibbah:

I have known this mare since she was a weanling and she has had this jibbah since birth. As a matter of fact, when I first met her, I expected that she would grow out of it. She never did.

The following is a picture of the beautiful straight Egyptian mare, Classic Dahra, to show you an extreme "dish":

While this mare has a slight Jibbah, it is not as extreme as the Jibbah on Princeton Maarena and the slight Jibbah creates the illusion of an exaggerated "dish" or rather a "dish" which appears more exaggerated than how it looks in real life. So, the above examples are made, not to say one mare is better than the other (not) or that one feature is more desireable than the other (not). It is a comparison/contrast of Jibbah and dish, so that you understand the difference. If anything, this is an opportunity to celebrate the variety of head shapes in our breed. Before we speak further on the Jibbah, it is important to make clear once more that "Jibbah" does not equal "dish" and "dish" does not equal "Jibbah".

Dr. Foppe Bono Klynstra studied the brain volume of various horse breeds, including the Arabian Horse. He published his findings in his book, Nobility of the Desert. He found that the Arabian had a very high brain volume, almost as high a volume as the Przewalski Horse, a truly wild, authentic, subspecies of horse (Equus ferus przewalski) from Asia. In Herbert Reese's book, Arabian Horse Breeding, the illustration of the Jibbah, as drawn by Gladys Brown Edwards appears in the book, as well as the following quote,

"The term 'jibbah' is used to denote the fullness between the eyes, a distinctive feature in many Arabian heads."
I spoke recently with Dr. Daniel Wigger, a Veterinarian and Egyptian Arabian Horse breeder in Muenster, Germany, about the the smaller skull size-larger brain concept, and Dr. Wigger shared with me what he remembers from animal brain anatomy, that is,
"...there is also a certain constant relation between body weight, brain volume and size of the eyes, which develop from the brain tissue during embryogenesis. So the key to breeding exotic heads with large eyes seems to be the selection of SMALL heads/skulls rather than trying to produce a certain shape. The shape is more or less accidental and not a very consistent trait but the size of the head has a very high heritability, increasing the chance of getting the favoured head shape."
In understanding the information that I have learned so far in my life, either from reading or observing the jibbah, in relation to the Arabian horse head first-hand, I feel that the Jibbah has more to do with the anatomical construction of the Arabian Horse skull, in order to allow the maximum amount of room, in a small-headed horse, for a larger sized brain. The Arabian Horse head is much smaller in size, as compared to the head size found in other breeds of horses, which I believe is a consequence of living in a desert climate; as a smaller head, has a smaller amount of surface area to be exposed to the effects of a closer, brighter, hotter sun and the damaging effects of intense UV radiation. The facial frontal and parietal bones create the prominent forehead, as these bones bulge outwards to supply the added room for the brain. The eye-sockets are also prominent on the Arabian Horse forehead, with also a wide distance between the location of the eyes. Again, designed to give the brain additional room.

Major R. D. Upton, again, from his book Gleanings from the desert of Arabia, says,
"The frontal and parietal bones, or walls of the skull above, are large, bold, well developed, and often prominent. The brain cavity is capacious, giving an appearance and power almost human. The nasal bones, on the other hand, are fine and subservient to the frontal, and of a delicate and graceful outline. The orbits of the eye are large and prominent; the eye is full, large, and lustrous. It is very beautiful; the beauty is not so much dependent upon the size of the eye visible through the eyelids, as it is derived from its depth and expression."
The horse *Morafic, famous in the 1960's for his extreme head, exhibits this anatomical phenomenon in the head, to accomodate the larger-sized brain in a longer faced horse, with a jibbah, bulging eye sockets and a very pronounced bone structure.

In closing, I would like to share with you, what Dr. Hans Nagel offered about the head, in his famous book, Hanan: The Story of an Arabian Mare and of the Arabian Breed,

"Was the typical shape of the head caused by great privation, as a sign of deterioration or a result of inbreeding (which is known to show especially in the bone structure) or is it a random mutation, developed further by human breeders who liked the shape? Whatever the original cause, the dished proile remained typical, as did the small head."

EnJoy your horses,

28 January, 2009

There Once Was A Stallion Named Antar

Antar was a son of Hamdan, a full brother to Shaloul, who together with their full sister, Samira, were part of the group which Judi Forbis' called "THE FABULOUS FOUR". These horses were sired by Ibn Rabdan and out of the mare Bint Radia, whose mother, Radia, was not only an important mare for the Royal Agricultural Society but also for the Inshass Stud of King Farouk. In THE CLASSIC ARABIAN HORSE, Judi Forbis shared that Radia traced to the mare Ghazala, a line known for producing elegant racehorses, horses that had substance and balanced with long necks and extreme heads. Radia's daughter, Zareefa (by Sahab) produced the mare, Bint Zareefa (by El Zafir), who in turn produced Abla (by Mekdam), the dam of Obeya. Anter, in both the tail female line of his sire and of his dam, traces to this mare, Radia. He is a special horse indeed. As the son of Obeya, Antar was a favorite horse of King Farouk, at whose studfarm, Inshass, was home to some of Egypt's finest horses. In 1952, when King Farouk was overthrown, most of these beautiful Arabians were sold at auction. However, some of the horses, including the stallions Sameh and Antar were sent to the EAO. Antar was a popular sire at the EAO, siring well over 50 foals, out of the choicest Egyptian mares. I believe that Antar's fame, like Alaa El Din, was made through his daughters, who far out-classed his sons. Judith Forbis saw Antar in Egypt and she shares the following observation:
A handsome bright red chestnut stallion of noble bearing, attractive head of medium length, rather high-placed medium eyes set in boney sockets, weil set and well,shaped ears, well-shaped nicely arched rather heavy long-enough neck, good withers, somewhat long back which tended to softness.
Dr. Hans Joachim Nagel remembered Antar in his very famous Hanan book:
"Anter (1946) a refined, bony horse of solid conformation. He had powerful, extending movements, a good shoulder and a fine, elegant neck. The negative features he passed on to his offspring were small eyes, too long ears and over-angualted hindlegs. On the whole, however, he was appreciated at El Zahraa as a good sire, especially of high quality mares."
Compare and contrast the above comments with Ms. Hansi Heck-Melnyk's memories of Antar in 1973 (Hansi owned the Anter daughter's, *Serenity Shahra and *Serenity Sagda):
"Antar did not have a long or week back at all. I saw him the last time in 1973. I saw Antar in 1973. He was in excellent condition. A liver chestnut, tremendous hindquarters, shoulders, withers and hip. Well set, on a balanced neck, excellent mover, lovely dispostion, excellent legs with a very typey, desert-bred like muscular head".
Reviewing the list of progeny, one immediately notices that Antar was bred to very fine mares, possibly some of the finest mares at the EAO. Was his success as a sire, a result of his own genetic influence or rather, was his significance a reflection of the genetic strength of each of the EAO mares he was bred to? Was Antar like Nazeer, who throughout history was known to be complementary to the mare he was bred to, allowing the mare to favorably influence the foal? In looking at the list of foals produced by the following mares, who went to produce their quality or better: Kamar, Abla, and Shahrzada, I would have to say that the combination was not one-sided, and I strongly believe that Antar bred to each of these three mares was a successful "nick" that should have been exploited more.

ABLA (Nazeer x Helwa)
(1) NAGAT grey Mare 1960
(2) RASHIKA grey Mare 1962
(3) EMAN grey Mare 1963
(4) SOMAIA mare 1965
(5) LOOZA/LUZA grey mare 1969
(6) ADAWEYA grey Mare 1970
(7) EIN grey mare 1971

AHLAM (Sid Abouhom x Bint Zareefa)
(1) CLEOPATRAA black Mare 1960

AYDA (Nazeer x Lateefa)
(1)WADI bay Colt 1964
(2)ASHOUR grey colt 1971

(1) BANDONG chestnut colt 1957

BASIMA (Alaa El Din x Sherifa)
(1)BASSAMA chestnut Mare 1971
(2)SALEEMA/SELEEMA chestnut Mare 1972

BINT BINT MABROUKA (Sid Abouhom x Bint Mabrouka)
(1)RAKIA chestnut Mare 1963
(2)MARIAM bay Mare 1964
(3)ROKAYA Mare

BINT EL SAMRAA (Mekdam x El Samraa)
(1)IBN ANTER chestnut Colt 1963 ANTER

BINT ELWYA (Sid Abouhom x Zareefa)
(1)ANSATA BINT ELWYA grey mare 1961

BINT KATEEFA (Sid Abouhom x Kateefa)
(1) BINT BINT KATEEFA chestnut Mare 1960
(2) BASIL colt 1966

BINT MAYSOUNA (Nazeer x Maysouna)
(1) NAAMA grey Mare 1961

BINT MONA (Nazeer x Mouna)
(1) IBN ANTAR/IBN ANTER grey colt 1964

BINT OM EL SAAD (Nazeer x Om El Saad)
(1) SERAG chestnut Colt 1972

EL AMEERA (Nazeer x Zaafarana)
(1) FERIAL chestnut Mare 1961

FARASHA (Alaa El Din x Yosreia)
(1)NABILAH/NABILAHH grey Mare 1960

FATIN (Nazeer X Nefisa)
(1)JEHAN grey Mare 1959

GALILA (Sid Abouhom x Rouda)
(1)MAMDOUH Colt 1960

HELWA (Hamran II x Bint Farida)
(1)FAHIDD chestnut Colt 1961

KAMAR (Nazeer x Komerira)
(1)SAAB grey colt 1963
(2)WAHAG grey Colt 1964
(3)KAHRAMANA grey Mare 1966

LATEEFA (Gamil III x Salwa)
(1)MAHBOUBA chestnut mare 1963

MABROUKA (Sid Abouhom x Moniet El Nefous)(1) MUBARK grey colt 1970

MAHFOUZA (Hamdan x El Mahrousa)(1) MAYSA chestnut Mare 1955

MAMLOUKA (Nazeer x Malaka)
(1) FIFI Mare 1963

MAYSOUNA (Kheir x Shams)
(1) TAHSEEN/ TAHSIN bay colt 1964

NAEEMA (Ramses Fayek x Tifla)(1) EL YATEEMA chestnut Mare 1971

NEAMAT (Morafic x Hemmat)
(1) NIHAL chestnut Mare 1966

NAZEERA (Nazeer x Malaka)
(1)HAMDIA/HAMIDA mare 1959
(2)KAWMIA grey Mare 1965
(3)BINT NAZEERA grey Mare 1968

NAZIC (Morafic x Rashida)
(1)AABER/ABER bay colt

RAGHA (Adham x Ragaa)
(1)RASMIA bay mare 1952

SAMIA (Nazeer x Malaka)
(1)HEKMAT chestnut Mare 1961
(2)SERENITY SAGDA grey Mare 1966

SHAHRZADA (Nazeer x Yosreia)
(1)IBN SHARZADA Colt 1960
(2)DAWLAT chestnut Mare 1961
(3)BINT EL NIL/BINT EL NILE chestnut Mare 1963
(4)IBN SHAHRZADA chestnut colt 1964


SOUHAIR (Sid Abouhom x Salwa)
(1) GHARIB black colt 1965

TANTA (Morafic x Mansoura)
(1)TOBROK grey Colt 1966
(2)HAYAT grey Mare 1967

THOURAYA (El Sareei x Rayana)
(1) GHADEER Mare
(2) MAHEERA grey mare

ZAHDA (Morafic x Om El Saad)(1) ZAHID chestnut Colt 1972

The Nazeera daughter, *Hamdia/*Hamida was imported by Gleannloch Farms and unfortunately, she died within a month of her importation. Gleannloch had imported many of the Anter daughters (Gleannloch imported 10 Antar daughters: Bint Bint Kateefa, Hamdia/Hamida, Dawlat, Hekmat, Nabilahh, Somaia, Eman, Kahramana, Cleopatraa, Nihal, plus 2 stallions: Ibn Anter and Fahidd) and Doug Marshall remembered this mare as one of the best mares he imported from Egypt.

Gleannloch treasured their Anter daughters including the mare *Nihal++ (pictured, at left), a 1971 US National Western Pleasure Champion, as well as a Top Ten English Pleasure Champion. This chestnut mare was versatility personified.

The Nazeer daughter, Abla, was bred to Antar multiple times to produce an influential mare at the EAO, Adaweya, as well as Eman (pictured here) and Ein, Looza, Nagat, Rashika, and Somaia. It is my own personal opinion that Abla is one of three mares who "nicked" with Antar; the other two being Kamar and Yosreia, through her two daughters: the Nazeer daughter, Shahrzada and the Alaa El Din duaghter, Farasha. In the 1980's, Dr. Ibrahim Zaghloul, the then director of the EAO, was asked by ARABIAN HORSE WORLD magazine: "Which mares, living or dead, had the strongest influence on the EAO's breeding program?" Dr. Zaghloul identified 5 mares, of which, the Antar daughter, ADAWEYA, was one of these influential mares:
"Adaweya (Antar x Abla) is a very noble grey mare who was foaled in March 24, 1970, and traces to the Farida line (Abla has 3 other daughters by Antar who were exported to the USA). Adaweya has beautiful conformation, including a level topline, pretty head, and refined bone. From Abla, she inherited that unmistakably classic elegance and exquisite type associated with the Egyptian Arabian, as well as a deep shoulder and high set neck. Her foals are in turn the embodiment of these characteristics."

I like the Antar daughter out of Elwya very much. A close-coupled mare, with a powerfully-built hind end, balanced by a wide chest and an arched, well-crested, elegant neck, she was proof of the positive impact that Antar could make as a sire. Imported to America by Don and Judi Forbis of Ansata Arabian Stud, she was renamed *Ansata Bint Elwya. She was bred to *Ansata Ibn Halima twice, to produce the full siblings: Ansata El Hakim, a 1972 stallion and Ansata Haliwa, a bay mare in 1973.

Samia (Nazeer x Malaka) also produced two wonderful daughters by Antar. Ms.Hansi Heck-Melnyk, of Serenity Farm purchased the mare Sagda and renamed her *Serenity Sagda. The interesting thing about Samia and her foals by Antar, is that while Sagda was a grey-coloured horse, Hekmat was a chestnut. Hekmat was successful in the show ring, as she was a Class A halter Champion many times. As I didn't know either mare when they were alive, is it a stretch to say that possibly Sagda resembled more of Samia, while Hekmat may have been a feminine version of her chestnut sire or her chestnut Kuhaylah Rodaniyah ancestors?

I believe that there was another good nick with Antar and that was YOSREIA through her daughters Shahrzada (Nazeer x Yosreia) and Farasha (Alaa El Din x Yosreia). From the union with Shahrzada, a mare like *Dawlat, "a leggy chestnut with a tremendous neck and shoulder" was born, as well as Bint El Nil, Ibn Shahrzada and *Serenity Shahra. *Dawlat carried forward the legacy of her parents, by producing the stallion: Dalul by *Morafic and Asjah Ibn Faleh, when bred to the Alaa El Din son, *Faleh.

One of the most beautiful mares that Gleannloch Farm produced was NEAMA, a daughter of *Nabilahh, sired by *Sakr. She was offered for sale in June of 1982 by Gleannloch Farms in the Pyramid Society Breeders Sale I, with an Amaal colt at side and bred to *Soufian for a 1983 foal (a mare named Qastal). *Nabilahh's daughter by *Morafic was named Bint Nabilahh. When this mare, Bint Nabilahh was bred to El Halimaar, the sweet mare, Maar Bilahh was produced. Maar Bilahh produced the popular stallion, Imperial Mahzeer, when bred to Imperial Madheen. He, in turn has sired Bint Saida Al Nasser (out of Saida), Konouz (out of Imperial Kaliya) and Mezna Al Rayyan (out of Ansata Magnifica) among others.When we speak of a mare like *Nabilahh, her pedigree is so powerful, having ANTAR as a sire and the YOSREIA daughter, FARASHA, as her dam. remeber that Farasha also produced the stallions *Faleh and *Farazdac by Alaa El Din and Galal by Nazeer. I believe that this breeding combination of Yosreia and Antar produced beautiful mares, as evidenced also by the daughters of Shahrzada, another Yosreia daughter. Is it any surprise? The combination of ANTAR and YOSREIA was the esteemed formula of Ibn Rabdan and Mansour. A well-proven "recipe" that yielded some of the most unforgettable horses Egypt has ever produced. If one person's attention is captivated by the beautiful daughters that Antar sired and their resulting influence on the Egyptian Arabian Horse, then the effort behind the writing of this essay, will have been well worth it.

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:
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
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,
The mare pictured in harness, in the opening photo is the lovely Roufah, an Ibn Fa Serr daughter out of Bah Roufa.

05 January, 2009

Universal Appeal

An Arabian Horse who possesses an abundant level of charisma; appealing to a wide variety of people who never, ever considered an Arabian Horse previously or even believed that the breed would be a suitable solution for their purposes.

Pictured, is the Ibn Morafic son, Amiin+//, ridden by Larry Westmoreland.