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M

eeting the Arabian is like inching closer to a celebrity. In a close encounter with the purebred Arabian horse, you hold your breath, youre transfixed! All previous knowledge of a horse formed by looking at the dizzy carousel of buggy horses, ponies, and the larger mustangs, quarter horses, Lipizzaner and even thoroughbreds desert the mind. The compulsive equestrian and horse aficionado, who has never met a true, desert-bred Arabian, is awe-struck when confronted with this living legend. The large, dark expressive eyes, the flowing mane, the dished face, the tapered muzzle with flaring nostrils, the deep neck, a sleek body, small curved ears, strong limbs, and high tail, large lung capacity and incredible endurance are exceptional characteristics unique to the

Asil (pure-bred) Arabian. The Arabian evolved in the crucible of the Arabian desert where the harsh conditions purified it, as gold is,by fire. Much has been written about the pure-bred Arabian, considered by some as the matrixthe original standard from which all horses descended; and its history is delightfully blended with vividly descriptive legend. ASIL HERITAGE The exact origin of the Arabian horse is unknown. The Qur`aan extols the courage of the brave coursers (ref. Surah Aadiyat). Sacred biblical and Semitic texts mention the 40,000 desert horses of King Solomon and Pharaohs powerful, graceful chariot horses. Archeological inspection of ancient graffiti in caves, engravings on rock, of hieroglyphs inside the Pyramids, and in sculpture and semi-relief carvings on sandstone of Hittite horsemen show equine illustrations that resemble the dish-faced, elegant-necked, high-tailed pure-bred Arabian, so that its origin can be assumed to be over 3,500 years ago. Historical archives, well documented, detail exploits of Arabian mares and stallions, and odes and ballads celebrating the beauty, endurance and loyalty of the animal abound in classical Arabic books of verse and prose. Arabian stallions and mares formed the core of the forces of Saladin, the valiant conqueror who founded the Ayyubid Dynasty (1193-1250 AD). Of Saladin's swift Saracen steeds, Sir Walter Scott penned in The Talisman: They spurned the sand from behind themthey seemed

to devour the desert before themmiles flew away with minutes, yet their strength seemed unabated!

Historically the Arab was essentially a war horse. Like most horses, the Arabian horse was primarily used in raids and conquests. This desert warfare, Ghazw, depended on the stamina, agility, and speed of the Arabian horse. In other breeds stallions were of higher value than mares, yet the Bedouins considered their mares to be the prized possessions in their herd. Mares were the best mounts for the pre-dawn raiding parties, as they would not make their presence felt, maintaining a low profile under cover. The brave mares displayed true grit in battle, facing the charges and the spear thrusts without giving ground. Napoleon Bonaparte, an expert on fighting conditions in Egypt (in his Observations on Egypt), acknowledged the superiority of the Mameluke soldiers and their mounts. Cook's Guide to Egypt cites Warburton as stating that the Mamelukes were the most superb cavalry in the world. Major Upton, a nineteenth century veteran of

dealings with the Arabs and an admirer of the Bedouin pure-bred horse stated that 'The real armour of the Bedaween horsemen, offensive and defensive, is the speed of his mare.' In the Souvenirs of Military Life in Algeria the Comte De Castellane says of a hawking-party that 'the Arab horsemen were mounted on the fleet mares held in unbounded estimation.' Of one mare he says: 'Her action was so light that she might have galloped on a woman's bosom.' History is replete with mention of occasions when purebred Arabians were given as gifts to kings and statesmen to forge alliances and strengthen diplomatic ties. Shuffling the pages of history, we find that some admirers of the breed among the royalty, the affluent aristocracy, high-ranking government officials, and wealthy merchants living in and outside the Middle East had sometimes paid the value of the pure-bred Arabian horses in gold.

Arabian horses were mainly introduced to Egypt and North Africa when the Muslim armies entered that region at the dawn of Islam. It is believed that the Arab tribes including Beni Hilal and Beni Saleem tribes played important role in introducing the Arabian horses to Africa when they moved from Arabia to Egypt around 1300 years ago. It is also believed that the Phoenicians were the first who introduced Arabian horses to Europe, but the main spread of the Arabian blood line occurred when Islam flourished in Europe. During late seventeenth and early eighteenth centuries, many Arabian horses were exported to England and recorded in the General Stud Book of Britain. Three pure-bred Arabian stallions had a particular influence on the development of Thoroughbred stock in England. All modern Thoroughbreds are descended from them in the male line. Those stallions were: 1 . Byerley Turk brought to England in 1689. 2. Darley Arabian brought to England in 1706. 3. Godolphin Arabian brought to England in 1729. The interbreeding between the Arabian stallions with the native English stock resulted in the modern Thoroughbred. Besides fascination and admiration, the main reason for bringing Middle Eastern stallions and mares to England and various parts of Europe during the 16th and 17th centuries was to improve local stock by cross-breeding. By the end of the nineteenth century breeding pure-bred

Arabians became an obsession, and concerted efforts by Wilfrid and Lady Anne Blunt the famous English traveler couple, promoted great interest in the preservation of original bloodlines as well as enriching domestic breeds. In the U.S. Nathan Harrison of Virginia imported the first Arabian stallion in 1725. But it was only in the nineteenth century that the breed of stallions and mares blazed a trail into the US. Randolph Huntington of Oyster Bay N.Y., the precursor of pure-bred imports in the US bought Naomi, a pure-bred mare in 1888, and was one of the earliest breeders of the Arabian horse in America. The magnificent pure-bred Jadaan ridden by Rudolph Valentino in the silent film Son of a Sheikh and the impetuous Arabian Cass Ole of the film The Black Stallion, generated true esteem and fascination for the breed and popularized the pure-bred Arabian in the United States. Over a hundred years enthusiasts took the Arabian horse to the US where, today, preserving bloodlines on the one hand and enriching half-breeds on the other has become a full-time occupation. Pure-bred semen is sold, and even sent by mail. There are hundreds of stud farms in the US and Canada breeding the prized Arab horse and a good number of them are registered by WAHO [World Arabian Horse Organization] as preserving the pure bloodlines. PURE-BRED CHARACTERISTICS

Gifted with untiring stamina, sinews of steel, a bold, intelligent eye, and hooves of flint, devouring mile after mile without a check, the pure-bred Arabian is a present fit for a king. None but the Arab has such a combination of courage, fire, endurance, and general temper. Interestingly, features of other animals have been poetically used to describe the Arabianthe gazelles swiftness, light steps and expressive eyes; the bulls powerful, cheeky profile, the flowing tail set high above the croup, large, flaring nostrils; the wolfs lithe, long tongue; the dromedary's endurance, staying power and ability to go for long hours without food and water; the ostrichs strong legs and impetus; and a birds swiftness and speed. There are other angles to the profile that sets the horses at a tangent to other breeds, the most outstanding being the face and the tail. The entire equine physiognomy of the breed, its shape as well as its color, was influenced by religious belief, superstition and tradition. Tribal patriarchs held that the bulging forehead held the blessings of Allah. Therefore the greater the Jibbah the greater the blessings carried by the horse. The elegant arched neck with a high crest the Mitbah, was a sign of courage; while a tail that stood erect and flowed like a flag carried family pride. These traits, held in high esteem, dominated breeding parameters. To the Bedouins goes the credit of initiating selective pure breeding of Arabian horses. The value placed upon

the mare invariably led to investigation of the genealogy of the Arabian horse through his dam. The only requirement of the sire was that he must be Asil; and the occurrence in the record of a celebrated mare of a superior pure-bred stock of mares in its ancestry added to the qualification. Names of tribes or sheikhs that bred the horses identified the mare families, or strains. Although their breeding records were retained in memory, passed down through the ages verbally, the tribes are also credited as the first to keep breeding records and maintaining the purity of the Arabian breed. Many Asil genealogies, even today, can be traced to desert breedingmeaning there is no written record but because of the value of purity to the Bedouins, "desert bred" is accepted as an authentic endorsement of pure blood for those early imports. The Bedouin valued pure-in-strain of horses above all others, and many tribes owned only one main strain of horse. The five basic families of the breed are known as "Al Khamsa", include Kuheilan, Seglawi, Abeyan, Hamdani and Hadban. Lesser strains include Maneghi, Jilfan, Shuwayman, and Dahman. There was further ramification of each main strain, and the nomenclature dictated by the celebrated mare or the Sheikh who owned it formed a substantial branch within the main strain. Exploits of courage, endurance, or speed always accompanied the recitation of the genealogy of the substrain, such as the great Kuheilat al Krush, the Kuheilat

Jellabiyat and the Seglawi of Ibn Jedran. Like post-war medals, each of these mares carried with them stories of great battles and intrigue. Their fillies were sought after by the regents of Europe, Central Asia and Russia, but often remained unattainable. Daughters and granddaughters of these fabled mares changed hands through bribery, theft, deceit, and sometimes even murder. If sold, the prices were staggering. Having been bred pure, the pure-in-strain developed characteristics that could be recognized and identified. With its depth of chest, masculine power and size the Kuheilan or Kuhaylan cannot be mistaken. Named after its dark black eyes ( Kohl the black eye liner). Standing on an average at 15 hands, the Kuheilans heads are short with broad foreheads and great width in the jowls. Gray and chestnut dominate its coloring. The Seglawi or Saqlawiyeh is known for refinement and almost feminine elegance. Named from the way the horse kicks the heels in the air when galloping, or from the shiny hair. This strain is more likely to be fast rather than have great endurance. Fine bone, longer faces and necks distinguish the Seglawi horses from the Kuheilan. The average height for a Seglawi would be 14.2 hands and bay, the most common color. Perhaps not dissimilar to the Seglawi, the Obeyah strain tends to be refined. The name came from the high tail during running and that the tail carried the mantle (cloak) of the rider. The pure-in-strain Obeyah possesses a longer back than a typical Arabian. Theyre

small horses, seldom above 14.2 hands, commonly gray and have more white markings than other strains. Hamdani horses are often considered plain, with a sporty masculine, large-boned build. Their heads are more often straight in profile, lacking an extreme Jibbah. The Hamdani strain is one of the largest, standing as much as 15.2 hands. The common colors are gray and bay. The Hadban strain, a smaller version of the Hamdani, shares several traits including big bone and muscular build. Known for its gentle nature, the Hadbans average height was 14.3 hands, the primary color brown or bay with few if any white markings. Traditionally two of the Arabians most unique and invaluable characteristics, patience and a pleasant temperament have evolved from living as family with their masters. In the desert they found food, water, and tender loving care living in the same tent as their owners. It was bred and nurtured like a member of the family and was never used for mean tasks such as carrying or pulling loads. The Arabians talent of quick responses have always dispensed with the use of the bitconsidered an insult to its intelligence by the Bedouins. A flick of the reins, some nudging with the knees and thighs is all it needs by way of signal. There are no pure-bred geldings in the home ground of the desert-bred Arabian horse. Purebreds are never branded as it would diminish their

worth. Castration is considered an outrage and a sin in Islam. Theres no denying that the Arabians exceptional abilities make it the first choice for endurance riding, a growing and popular sport today. The Arabians superior blood quality, a strong heart, and fatigueresistant muscle fiber surpass those of other strains, making it a natural for endurance races, polo, buzkashi and similar sports. Moreover, its characteristic generosity and eagerness to deliver and perform make it the most preferred and prized choice. DOCUMENTING THE PURE BRED For over two decades horse lovers, especially devotees of pure bred Arabian, urged Arab nations by correspondence, personal visits, and invitations to watch their own collection of the Asil horses & mares, to establish and regularize stud book organizations in their respective countries to research, trace, authenticate and maintain records of the inestimable bloodlines of the Arab horse. Official stud organizations that track Arabian bloodlines did exist over several decades. But it was not until about 20 years ago that Tunisia, Morocco, Oman, UAE and Algeria set up their own stud books, followed by Saudi Arabia and Iraq. Sanctioned by the World Arabian Horse Organization (WAHO), such efforts help endorse the genealogy and hence the purity of the Arabian.

THE ARAB STATES COMMON GOALS: Breeding & Documenting Pedigree In promoting successful programs to preserve the Arabian horse in its native habitat, the Hummar Stables set up and maintained the Arabian Horse Stud Book of the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan, located in the rolling wooded hill country of Hummar, 10 kilometers (six miles) north of the Jordan capital, Amman. Jordanians strive to make sure that this heritage is not lost. The Riyadh Equestrian Club of KSA went to the extent of eliminating mixed-breed horses at the race tracks of the Kingdom. Acting under royal decree of King Fahd ibn 'Abd al-'Aziz and Crown Prince 'Abd Allah ibn 'Abd al-'Aziz, steps were taken to restrict national races to purebred Arabians - especially the King Fahd Cup and Crown Prince 'Abd Allah Cup races. In Egypt the Al-Zahraa Farm is an integral zone for Arab horses. The farm spans 4200,833 metre squares with 5 large stables large enough to contain 50 heads. It is one of the main centres dedicated to the protection of Arab horses. All facts about equine statistics and stud facts are distributed among agricultural units in different governorates are registered in records. Bahrains Royal Amiri Stud possesses 21 strains of authentic Arabian horses. The Al Khalifa family, which has ruled Bahrain since 1782, trace their origin to the Anazeh tribe of Central Nejd. Records and registration of the horses were compiled and the Amiri Arabian Stud Book of Bahrain was established. In 1976, Bahrain joined

the World Arabian Horse Organization (WAHO) and became one of the early members in the Middle East. Breeding superior horses is a family tradition and the strains are fanatically preserved by the Al Khalifas. The State of Qatars breeding isn't meant to be for its own sake, each spring the resident "Racing and Equestrian Club" arranges an international show which in this year was held from the 21st to the 23rd March, already for the eighth time. As Qatars international flair is precious to the state. The panel of judges and the committee of discipline are equally internationalas photographers and well-known trainers from Europe and the United States are flown in. The Al Shaqab Stud, the Rayyan Stud, the Nasser Stud, and the Naif Stud, owned by the ruling Al Thani families, including private owners are committed to fulfill the great need to preserve the bloodlines of the pure-bred. THE HOMECOMING: THE ARABIAN IN THE UAE The deep-seated concern, worry and commitment to save the breed, not from extinction, but from the loss of purity of strain, was the driving force behind governments, royalty, and prominent private citizens in acquiring and propagating the great treasure of the Bedouinthe Arabian horse. The UAE first participated in a World Arabian Horse Organization conference in November 1986, held in Morocco. Since then the UAE was always represented in the international field, taking all steps for improving

the status of the Arabian horse. In August 1990 two delegates from the UAE representing the Stables of the late HH Sheikh Zayed, participated in the WAHO meeting in Scottsdale, Arizona. In November 1992 the UAE participated in the WAHO conference in the Arab republic of Egypt, and again in September 1994, in the conference in Morocco, as well as organizing an exhibition to inform others about the UAEs rapid development. The Emirates Arabian Horse Society released the first book of the origins of UAE horses in 1989, just a few months after it was established. In less than a year (January 1990) a copy of the book was delivered to WAHO. After being approved in the regular meeting of the 1990 WAHO conference in Scottsdale, Arizona, the UAE became a full member of the organization. The society made use of all means of international communications and different ways of recording and examining information. In May 1993, the Society became linked to the USA horse registration data base, and in September 1994, to the international information net for Arabian horse registration second only in the world (after Canada) The Society also made use of electronic identification registration of all locally bred foals through the implantation of identification chips. Afterwards, the Society began exploring ways of expanding its targets and to invite WAHO to host its conference in the UAE

THE QASIMI STABLESand Sheikh Sultans Penchant for Research His Highness Sheikh Dr. Sultan Bin Mohammed Al Qasimi, Ruler of Sharjah and Member of the Supreme Council, United Arab Emirates, is renowned for his painstaking study of the history of the Arab people, a history inseparable from the Arabian horse. Sheikh Sultan bin Mohammed, in his efforts to preserve Arab heritage, considered breeding and continuance of the pure-bred Arabian entity as crucial as preserving unadulterated religious tradition. Grieved and deeply concerned that pure-bred lineage is being compromised, and that breeders in other countries practiced selective breeding of the Arabian for performance on the racecourse or the endurance trail, His Highness Sheikh Sultan initiated an Arabian breeding program in the UAE long before it became a pressing need among the Arab states of the region, exclusively for asserting Arab pride in the heritage and beauty of the Arabian horse. Driven by a deep-seated responsibility as an Arab ruler towards perpetuation of the pure bred Arabian horse, and to protect and preserve the legacy passed on by his ancestors by scrupulously investigating Asil bloodlines, he has never and still not made any purchases or breeding decisions based on acclaim at equestrian events or exultation at the finish lines. When he put his plan into practice twenty years ago, Sheikh Sultan proceeded carefully, with scholastic

precision, to dredge the past. His expertise on the history of the Arab race and civilization, and the fact that the Arab past and the Arab horse, united with common goals and destiny, formed the bedrock of Arab heritage, heightened the need to foster a continuance of the pure bred Arabian in the land of its origin. Almost at the same time His Highness Sheikh Sultan discovered that his daughter, Her Excellency Sheikha Nur Bint Sultan Al Qasimi, also a student of culture and history, who pursues doctorate studies in film, cherished a genuine admiration and shared a common passion for the Arabian horse. Between the two, they built up an impressive herd of the magnificent Arabian horse, specializing in most of them of rare homozygous black colour. Their horses, the mare Esta Shama and the celebrated stallion Mahabi El Shaklan performed impressively at the first UAE horse show in Abu Dhabi in 1996. When interest in breeding the classic pure bred became popular and widespread, Sheikh Sultan offered stud services of the pure bred stallions of the Al Qasimi stables at no cost to genuine breeders of Asil Arabians as an expression of his happiness that his efforts bore abundant fruit. The young foals and fillies that he gave away as gifts became champions and vindicated Sheikh Sultans foresight of scrupulous breeding programs. Carefully choosing breeding stock from France, Germany and England , Sheikh Sultan satisfied himself that they were excellent representatives of Polish,

Egyptian and Spanish bloodlines. Some of his and his daughters most notable breeding and show stock were such celebrated stallions as Mahabi El Shaklan and the beautiful champion stallion, Om el Azadik. The champion sires enriched the Al Qasimi Stables as well as gave a significant boost to breeding programs throughout the UAE. These stallions were bred to the Al Qasimi Stables group of broodmares, which had been narrowed down to consist mostly of horses that were a combination of Egyptian and Polish bloodlines. Mahabi El Shaklans offspring started their winning for the Al Qasimi Stables at the first National Championship in 1996 with beautiful daughter, Futnah, out of the studs leading producing broodmare at the time, Khalduna El Assaud, winning the category of the best Arabian head. His other notable offspring is the charismatic full brother of Futnah, Mohab, who has been named champion stallion in the UAE several times. Om El Azadiks offspring have been just as impressive in the show ring with his two daughters, both out of the influential broodmare Warandes Estopa, displaying filial excellence by winning titles in the UAE and Qatar and Jordan. Monet Annafs the older of the two sisters was named Reserve Champion Mare at the First Annual Ajman Horse Show and was also Reserve national Champion at the National Show in Abu Dhabi. Following in her older sisters path, her beautiful two year old sister, El Badeah was named Reserve Junior Champion Filly at the prestigious 2003 Qatar

International and the Middle East Championships in Jordan in September of 2003. With time the Qasimi bent of mind gravitated towards the mystique of the Egyptian Arabian horse, valued as an extremely productive source of the classic refinement for which the Arabian breed is well-known. Although numbering less than 3% of the hundreds of thousands of registered Arabians, Egyptian Arabians continue to command a disproportionately large number of ribbons, honors, and hearts. In the last decade Sheikh Sultan had begun to mull in his mind the image of what he considered the ideal, the epitome of the Arabian horse, and resolved to infuse more Egyptian blood into his program. He had always been impressed by the validity of this horses history and purity, and for him their sustained integrity of breed vindicated the strength of their heritage. From 2000 onwards, he furthered his plans by buying Crusader, the charismatic and successful show and breeding stallion from England and renamed him Mujahid. This tall elegant stallion is a son of the great Ansata Halim Shahs son, Salaa El Din, considered by connoisseurs of the breed to be one of the finest straight Egyptian sires in the world. Already a champion and sire of champions in the UK and Europe, Mujahid began raking in show-ring wins for the Al Qasimi Stables immediately as National Champion Stallion in Abu Dhabi in 2002 and in the

same show winning the National Championship under saddle as well as the title for Best Head. In 2003 his first foal crop for the Al Qasimi Stables has already made their presence known in the show rings not only in the UAE but also in the competitive Qatar International. On February 20 2005, Ansata Iemhotep, the mares Ansata Nile Lace, Ansata Mariha, Ansata Anisah, and the yearling colt, Ansata Mubarriz flew to Sharjah via United Arab Emirates cargo aircraft. The new straight Egyptian breeding program is launched by His Highness Dr. Sheikh Sultan Bin Mohammed Al Qasimi, the eminent historian and author, who has made Sharjah the cultural seat of the Emirates and is devoted to furthering education, art, and culture about the Arabian horse in the Arabian Gulf and the Arab world. A sprawling new equestrian complex has recently been constructed close to his new palace for being closer to his pet project. A sophisticated veterinary facility provides all aspects of health care for the horses. While the Al Qasimi stables have maintained a few straight Egyptians, including such famed Egyptian Event winners, the late Farid Nile Moon, and his stable mate Desiree, His Highnesss declaration to set up a specific straight Egyptian program is a welcome addition to the outstanding straight Egyptian farms already established in the region. The ruling family of Dubai has excelled in breeding Asil Arabians, organizing and winning in Dubai International Shows every year, in the Dubai World

Cup at the Nad Al Sheba Course, and displayed outstanding performances at endurance races. Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, and his sons, Rashid bin Mohammed and Maktoum bin Mohammed, have exceeded international expectations in their sterling performances at endurance races astride the desert-bred Arabian. Together, the Rulers of the United Arab Emirates have committed themselves solemnly to preserve and flaunt the beauty and mystique of the pure-bred Arabian horse.