10 December, 2010


The desert-bred mare, Rodania is an extremely vital mare in straight Egyptian breeding, maybe one of the most important horses in our community. Think of Egyptian horses like Alaa el Din, *Serenity Sonbolah, Al Adeed Al Shaqab, Imperial Imdal and Lancers Asmara, in order to understand how many of our most beloved horses carry the influence of Rodania in their pedigree. She is everywhere.

I found the above portrait, as painted by the wonderful artist and Arabian Horse authority, Peter Upton. Somehow, he managed to capture her beauty forever, so that people like me, would know how beautiful Rodania was. I am grateful for Peter Upton's talent, which has made it possible to pass great gifts, like the painting of Rodania, onto us. No matter what I am facing, within the course of a day, one look at this portrait and I am vividly reminded of the extraordinary beauty which does exist in our world. We just need to search for it..all the time.

"The ideal Arabian type is recognizable at sight to the experienced horseman and novice alike. It falls short of the ideal if it reminds one of another horse or breed. It falls short of the ideal if it is so plain and uncertain of type as to require a sign: 'This is an Arabian horse.'  It falls short of the ideal if it is so coarse and masculine as to remind one of a small Percheron, at one extreme, or so highly animated and elf-like as to remind one of a gazelle at the other extreme. The ideal type stands out alone. You know it immediately when you see it."-Ben Hur, from his 1951 Western Horseman article, Type in the Arab
Rodania is a Kuhaylah Rodaniyah, bred by the Ruala tribe of the Anazeh Bedouins.  Rodania was captured by Tais Ibn Sharban of the Saba'ah tribe, from Sheikh Sattam Ibn Shalan in 1880. Wilfrid and Lady Anne Blunt eventually purchased the mare from Tais Ibn Sharban and imported Rodania to their Crabbet Park Stud in England, circa 1881. Rodania is present in Egyptian breeding primarily through the family that her daughter Rose of Sharon founded. Rose of Sharon was a daughter of the desert-bred stallion, Hadban. She in turn, was bred to the Ali Pasha Sherif stallion, Merzuk and produced the mare Ridaa. When Ridaa was bred to the Ali Pasha Sherif stallion named Mesaoud, she produced the mare Risala. Risala's daughter by Ibn Yashmak, Bint Risala (a great-great grand-daughter of Rodania) is one of the two Rodania descendants incorporated into the RAS breeding program, which eventually became the EAO, as we know it today. The other Rodania descendant was Bint Riyala, a daughter of the Mesaoud son, Nadir and Riyala, a Ridaa daughter by *Astraled, who is an interesting horse, as his dam, Queen of Sheba, like Rodania, was a coveted mare in the desert and was also a prize of war. Rodania underscores the significance that the Blunts would ultimately have upon modern Arabian Horse breeding,


It is their sacrifices, their diligence, their dedication which makes any of this possible, so many years after they lived on earth.  Would we even be talking about these beautiful horses, if the Blunts did not exist? In this one instance of Rodania, Egyptian breeding would be far different without her.

EnJoy your horses,

07 December, 2010

'Tis the Season: King Ibn Saud's Gift

"You gave your love away, and I'm thankful every day, for the gift."-Tom Douglas & Jim Brickman, from their song, The Gift
Seventy-three years ago, in December of 1937, *Turfa and three other horses (along with four camels) stepped off a ship named "Mantola", which was docked at the Royal Albert Docks in London and were presented by King Ibn Sa'ud as a coronation gift to George VI, the new King of England. They had traveled a long way from their home in Central Arabia, in the Nejd.

We know about *Turfa but who were the other three horses?

Above is a picture of the stallion, Manak. A 1928 chestnut stallion, who was reported in the Arab Horse Society (UK) news as,
"of exceptional quality, very masculine in type, with good bone, strong loins, quarters and hocks. He is a fine mover and carries his head and 'flag' like an artistocrat. He is a horse of perfect temperament and can be ridden by a child."
 Shortly after his arrival, Manak traveled to Upend Stud in Newmarket, the farm belonging to Colonel Anderson.

The three year old colt, Kasim, was a bay-colored horse and a little taller than Manak, at 14.3 hands. Although the AHS feature reports that he was of good quality and a nice mover, the news also says that he was rather backward. I know that desert horses take longer to fully mature, as compared to other breeds of horses and I imagine that Kasim had not yet fully grown into all his parts. Kasim went to Nant Fawr Stud in South Wales, the farm belonging at the time, to Mr. D. E. Neale.

The last horse who was part of the coronation gift was actually a proven broodmare. Her name was Faras. She was a 1927 bay-colored mare, who had produced offspring famed for their speed and endurance. The AHS news said of her,
"...of exceptional quality and hard bone. She has an ideal Arabian head and carries her tail well."
Manak was bred to the Bahraini mare, Nuhra, yielding 3 fillies: Nurmahal in 1943, Taj Mahal in 1945 and Nurmana in 1946. I found it interesting that Manak was bred to this mare. She was a gift, given by the Sheikh of Bahrain to the Earl of Athlone. In the same AHS news article which reported the Coronation gift horses; mention was also made of a visit that the Earl of Athlone and Princess Alice, Countess of Athlone, made to Saudi Arabia and Bahrain. Nuhra was one of two horses gifted to the royal couple, by the Sheikh of Bahrain. Nuhra was sired by a Kuhaylan Jellabi stallion, out of a Kuhaylah al' Wadhna, from where she received her original Amiri name of Wadhna.

I am amazed over the generosity of King Ibn Sa'ud, in sending his very best horses, representing his skill, his wisdom and his talents as a breeder of the finest Arabian horses. I wonder over all the horses he bred and raised in the Nejd. What were they like? What did they look like? I wonder over their beauty and of the unique characteristics which made the Nejd horse so revered, for all the people who were blessed with the opportunity to see them. 

In the last decade, only seven Babson-Turfa horses were produced. Six of these horses were females and five of them were sired by the same Babson sire. A reduced breeding population, on the verge of disappearing, makes me desirous to repay the King for his long-ago kindness, in allowing a treasure like *Turfa to leave her home forever and insuring that her valuable pedigree would continue far into the future, waiting to be discovered, "un-wrapped" and cherished by someone like me, in love with these extraordianry horses.

Trot on! Turfa! Trot on!