Saturday, January 8, 2011

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Remaining Authentic

This is the straight Egyptian mare, Fa Magnolia Moon. Like Fa Carolina Moon, Fa Magnolia Moon is a Halim el Mansour daughter, however, Fa Magnolia Moon is out of the mare Fa Sherifaa, an Ansata el Sherif daughter out of Faserrabba while Fa Carolina Moon is out of Fa Bukra, a Fa Asar daughter out of the Ansata el Sherif daughter, SF Khala Zahra. So, both mares have Bukra blood on the maternal side of the pedigree and the Bukra source is the same for both mares, Ansata el Sherif. These two mares are very closely related, more than half-sisters. 

I chose this picture of Fa Magnolia Moon because I am especially reminded of a painting which depicts a group of mares, on a hot day, drinking water at a desert well. The mares are elegant, feminine and draw your eyes away from an otherwise harsh, dry landscape. Looking at this photo of Fa Magnolia Moon, I remember something which Lady Anne Blunt said, when describing the horse of the Nejd,
"the Nejd horses have short necks, short bodies, good shoulders and a very good tail carriage. Their heads are better than the Anazeh's in every respect the Arabs admire: the heads are not too large, but neither too small, a great width between ears and eyes and between the eyes, but not between the ears; the profile concave below the eyes. The tails of the Nejd horses are thrown out in movement, like their heads, in a perfect arch."-Lady Anne Blunt
What I like most about this mare is her very short, very wide head. She is stunning. Her head is so broad, with much room between her eyes, which by the way, are large, black and lustrous. Like her sister, she has beautiful nostrils, large, elastic, with a very nice shape. Her skin is very fine, with no additional layers of fat, accentuating the prominence of bone and veins in her "dry" head. Her features appear chiseled, as if by an artist. Look at the quality of her mane hair. It is amazing. The hairs are long, silky and fine. Magnolia Moon, like her sister, physically embodies the qualities that authors like Dr. Hans Nagel and Lady Anne Blunt have defined for all time, of the Nejd horse. When one looks at this horse, there are no doubts of who she is...she is powerfully authentic.

PS credit for the picture of Fa Magnolia Moon, taken by Clothilde Nollet, Maarena Arabians, Chamoux, France

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Authentic


When Dr. Hans Nagel published his landmark book called HANAN, he offered something of great significance to the community of Arabian Horse enthusiasts, and that is a very concise description of the rare Nejdi horse, which forms the basis of his unique philosophy termed "the horse of the south":
"...fine skin, hard sinews, compact and light bones of great structural density, dry muscles, tough and long, no excess weight of any kind. A physical size located at the lower end of the scale of the species, and typical characteristics that allow survival in a dry, hot climate: strong pigmentation as protection from the sun, few or no white markings, a short coat for better transpiration and a deposit of fat in the back or tail area for times of hunger. No fat within or among the muscles, but rather directly beneath the skin. Hard hooves that could stand up to the mostly rocky ground, and a calm temperament to preserve energy. Those are some of the conditions of nature these animals had to fulfill.
I was not raised in a desert environment but rather, in a country lush with green vegetation and water. The horses which I knew in my formative years, reflected abundance. I rode Warmblood horses which became my standard for conformational excellence. These horses were all I knew on a regular basis. Tall, heavily muscled, weighing approximately 1500 pounds or more; these were substantial horses, specifically bred for sport, within a controlled environment. While these horses were admired and heavily rewarded for their big, elastic, ground-covering gaits; these same horses would not prosper in an unforgiving desert climate, where the traveling distance between two points could adversely impact a horse. The Nejd horse, on the other hand, is incredibl efficient and does not waste energy. The "horse of the south" conserves his energy. This is one of the reasons why a calm and tractable disposition is so important.

It is challenging to have this background in sport, appreciating horses who move gigantically, while recognizing the conformation which allows the horses to move in this fashion and not want to incorporate the same into a breed that was never designed to deliver this movement, because desert horses were built for an entirely different purpose, reflecting the land from which they originated. What a travesty to change this desert horse, in order to adopt the characteristics of another breed, developed in an environment not even remotely familiar to the desert. While the attributes of the desert horse may not make the horse suitable for dressage, as compared to a powerfully built 17 hand plus Dutch Warmblood, one needs to really search inside their heart, as to what it is that you want from the world of horses. I know for myself, this is a very difficult question and changes from day-to-day. My inner struggle has been to find the right answer to this question.

FA Carolina Moon is a Halim el Mansour daughter out of the mare, FA Bukra (Fa Asar x SF Khala Zahra). FA Bukra's sire, Fa Asar, is an Ibn Fa Serr son, out of the straight Babson Egyptian mare, Serasabba (Fabah x Serrasab). While her mother, his half-sister in blood, is a daughter of Ansata el Sherif and out of the full sister to Serasabba, Sabrah. What I like most about Carolina Moon's pedigree is the blend of the Dahman and Saqlawi strains, which results in a refined and beautiful Dahmah Shawaniyah mare. When I asked Marilyn to tell me more about Carolina Moon, she said,
"She is a Halim El Mansour look alike, no doubt. Lovely mare with a very sweet disposition much like her Dad."
Carolina Moon reinforces in my mind all that Dr. Nagel presents in his Hanan book about the desert horse. I find her to be incredibly authentic, physically embodying the attributes of the Nejdi horse. I am also reminded of the breeding philosophy that Walter Schimanski employed in his own program, which focused on the Dahman strain of Egyptian Arabians. He believed that alternately mixing the Saqlawi strain with the Dahman strain, would emphasize the refinement needed, to avoid becoming "short and thick". When I see Carolina Moon, I understand fully what Walter was striving for, in terms of refinement.

I love what Marilyn has been doing with her program, as it is resulting in a very authentic, high class, fine and elegant desert horse. Meeting a breeder of the caliber of Marilyn Lang, with Dr. Nagel's book as my guide, is invaluable for recognizing and appreciating the authentic Nejdi horse. Many times, I have swooned over a particular horse and in my enthusiasm, I may not have paid as close attention as Marilyn has to the details. Many times, I revert to my old ways and pick out substantial horses which lack the physical attributes of the Nejd horse. Many times, I have chosen horses, when compared to the Nejd horse, who are coarse or lack the human-like expression, the thin skin, the silky quality of the hair, the dryness, the dark pigmentation. Marilyn's devotion to the "details" is succeeding in recreating the authentic "horse of the south" in a land that is foreign to the desert horse of the Nejd.

PS credit for the picture of Fa Carolina Moon, taken by Clothilde Nollet, Maarena Arabians, Chamoux, France

Friday, October 1, 2010

The Strength of a Tear

I just finished reading a super book, THE STORY OF BRUTUS, written by Casey Anderson. If you have watched the new National Geographic channel, NAT GEO WILD, you might be familiar with Casey Anderson, the host of EXPEDITION WILD. Brutus is an 800-pound Grizzly Bear, raised by Casey, from birth and lives at the Montana Grizzly Bear Encounter.

One of the most touching stories that I have ever read, was buried deep within this book. Casey was cradling Brutus (then a cub) while bottle-feeding him. He was looking at the cub, nestled in his arms, approximately the size of a loaf of bread. He noticed that Brutus was looking up at him, staring intently and then, he noticed something.....tears were forming in the cub's eyes. Much later in the book, when Brutus is much bigger, he wasn't feeling well. Casey laid down next to his bear and started rubbing his belly, to let Brutus know that he was there for him, to help him feel better. And what do you think happened?

Brutus looked into Casey's face and yes, once again, tears formed in the Brutus' eyes.

That's love....real, live, honest, raw love.

So, when my friend, Marilyn Lang sent me pictures of her mare, Maar Mara, I was looking at the pictures, one-by-one, enjoying the beautiful mare that I was seeing and then, I got to the very last picture.

OH MY GOSH! IT'S BRUTUS!

Do you see it in the picture? There is something about this particular picture that tugged at my heart and reminded me of the experience Casey had with Brutus. I was instantly overwhelmed by a sweetness so powerful, an innocence so beautiful;  it is inviting. I want to jump into this picture and just hug and hug and hug her until my arms ache and I can't hold them up anymore.

Maar Mara is stunning and I noticed so many of the exquisite features that I look for in the head of an Egyptian Arabian Horse:

1) big black eyes
2) large, finely shaped,  delicate, elastic nostrils
3) very dark, heavily pigmented skin
4) a shorter, wider head
5) larger jowls
5) very prominent details of bone and veins

Marilyn tells me that she is an incredibly sweet mare.
"...she would follow you to hell and back for a good scratch on the underside of her neck."
Maar Mara is full sister to our Black Angel, Angelic Noir. Sired by the stallion Zarife El Mansour and out of the Princeton Faaris daughter, SunnyRu Maaroufa.

Maar Mara is a living representation of everything that I have ever wanted in a horse and all that I find in our Egyptian Arabian horse breed. They are far more valuable than we realize...because of what they can do for us, that is, the power they have in changing our lives. These horses love people abundantly and with the right kind of love, kindness and respect, the rewards are immeasurable...off the charts. These horses will help you in your personal growth and gradually, you will realize that you have become a completely different person...a better person...all because of the love of a horse...and of course, a healthy dose of tears.
"No one gets into horses to become a better human being or to find greater meaning in life or to make the world a better place but sometimes, that's exactly what happens."-Rick Lamb, from his book, The Revolution in Horsemanship and What It Means to Mankind

Monday, August 2, 2010

Grey + Bay Halimas: Does Color Influence Type?

This yearling colt, Fa Ibn Fasherifaa, is a son of a well-kept secret in Pennsylvania: WK Halimelshahkir, a Halim el Mansour son out of the *Fakher el Din daughter, Akira Zarif. "Shahkir" as he is known, is a bay stallion bred by Caryn Rogosky.

WELL KEPT SECRET?

Yes, Shahkir is not advertised to the community nor is he currently being shown. That is unfortunate. He is the best horse that Caryn has ever bred and over a few years, is proving to be an excellent sire. In person, Shahkir, who has a prominent jibbah, is an agile and athletic horse. I have watched him at liberty, his lithe body moving through a series of electric turns and spins which makes my hair stand on end, as I recognize this horse's most incredible potential. Just standing, he is beautiful but when he moves, he takes my breath away. He would make an awesome performance horse as well, possibly a big star in the discipline of Reining. I was impressed over the appearance of Nazeer and Moniet el Nefous, who are close up in his pedigree."Shahkir", who is still a relatively young horse (foaled in 1996) claims these horses as his maternal great-grandparents. I was amazed over this fact, the more I thought about it. I don't believe there are many horses in 2010 who have these significant foundation horses only three generations into the pedigree! I have left Caryn's place many times, having trouble thinking of anything other than Shahkir. He is that much horse, genotypically and phenotypically, wrapped up in one typey and classic package.

Because this colt reminded Marilyn so much of his dam, possessing that ultimate *Ansata Ibn Halima Dahman mystique, he was nicknamed "Ibby". This colt's dam is Bint Fasherifaa, a daughter of the black stallion, AK Sirhalima and out of FaSherifaa, an Ansata el Sherif daughter out of Faserrabba. Bint Fasherifaa has been one of Marilyn Lang's best producing broodmares. She has produced two stunning daughters: the black FA Angelita Rose sired by a Halim El Mansour son named FA Fajeer Halim and the lovely young filly, FA Maarlina Moon sired by Marilyn's El Halimaar son, FA Halii Halim. I am excited over FA Angelita's next foal, as she was bred to the Alixir son, Justynn, who is out of Bint Bint Justina. Marilyn plans on breeding Maarlina Moon, God willing, to Nebras Al Rayyan next spring. This breeding will  infuse more Bukra blood in Marilyn's program through the stallion, Ansata Halim Shah.

DOES COAT COLOR INFLUENCE TYPE?
Bint Fasherifaa is also the dam of FA Khalid El Mansour, a bay-colored, three year old FULL brother to FA Ibn Fasherifaa. He is different, many similarities, much common ground but physically different. One colt is bay like his sire, the other is grey like his dam. Its a bit of "deja-vu", as this is a similar result to what *Ansata Ibn Halima accomplished, when he sired the bay Halim el Mansour and the grey El Halimaar. Not to mention that *Ansata Ibn Halima was the grey son of a grey stallion and a bay dam. Hmmm. It is difficult to compare both colts, as Ibby is only a yearling. Physically, Ibby looks like the ideal Dahman strain horse, possibly a bit more refined than the ideal, as a result of the Saqlawi influence from Fakher el Din; on the other hand Fa Khalid El Mansour, nicknamed "Tornado" is a more Kuhaylan-influenced version of the Dahman, possibly influenced by Maar-Ree. Look at how wide and muscled his chest is! His neck, like Ibby's neck, sits higher on his chest but while Ibby's neck is slender; Tornado's neck is proportionately substantial to match the rest of his big body. His back is short, wide and very strong, anchored by a powerful hindquarter. This horse is a powerhouse, reminiscent of the more baroque-looking horse that was found in the breeding program of Prince Mohamed Aly Tewfik. Maybe, just maybe, the many lines to Ibn Rabdan, although far back in his pedigree, have influenced the phenotype of Tornado.

Both horses are concentrated in the blood of the Babson mare, *Bint Bint Sabbah, mainly through her *Fadl daughter, Habba. As I studied the pedigree, I was amazed at the number of times her name appeared. There are nine lines to *Bint Bint Sabbah and four of those lines are through Habba. Do you know the mare Habba? She produced a number of wonderful sons and daughters, who have been prolific and appear in the pedigrees of some of our greatest horses. For example, the stallion Laheeb is a son of AK Latifa, who is out of Siralima, a grand-daughter of Habba. *Ansata Ibn Halima appears 4 times, close up in the pedigree. *Bint Nefisaa and *Ansata Bint Bukra bring in additional branches of Farida and Sabah blood into the pedigree, multiplying the number of Dahman sources, into a very concentrated mix of the strain.

I really like Ibby's softness. When Marilyn gave me his picture, it is what I first noticed and what attracted me immediately to him. I want to touch him. I want to talk to him and have him know my voice. I want to wrap my arms around his neck and bury my nose in his mane. I want to scratch him on his wither and feel his weight, as he leans into me, for comfort and security. I want to walk into his pasture and see him turn his head around to look for me and acknowledge my presence. I want a friend and that's what this little guy will be for someone one day.
Both colt's eyes are very nice. They are completely black (no white at all) and have a very nice, round, shape, They are placed wide apart on the head, with a lot of room in between. Viewed from the front and from behind the horse, the eye protrudes enough, that you can see the eye, no matter where you are standing. That's really good. I like to think that these horses have great vision, as the construction of the eye socket allows them to see so much more. The energy that radiates from their eyes is kind...very kind. Their heads are shorter and we see bone and vein definition already in their faces. However, as I said earlier, there is just something about Ibby that I can't resist. His jowls are larger, like the size of a dinner plate, which suggests that there is enough room already for a good-sized fist to fit in between both jowls. He has very nice, larger-sized nostrils with a flaring, delicate shape. I like his neck, which is influenced by Farida and is set higher on his chest. He is very smooth of body, harmonious in his build. His front legs are beautiful, and he stands nice, straight and square. With the influence of *Bint Bint Sabbah, his body is made of up round, curvey lines, which gracefully flow into one another. With the added influence of Farida, these circular lines are made smoother, with a little more power. I notice that in the connection of his hip, hindquarter, croup and loins. He is is powerfully smooth in this area. I like the shape of the hindquarter and he has awesome tail carriage, with the tail carried away from his body.

But I can't get this coat color thing out of my mind. In Richard Pritzlaff's herd, to use another example of color-to-type, the chestnut progeny of *Bint Moniet el Nefous was far different than her bay-colored progeny. Think of the physical difference between the chestnut stallion Rasmoniet and any of the bay Rashad-sired daughters like RSI Rara Del Sol, Monisa RSI or even, Bint Bint Moniet. Remarkably different from all of these horses was her one grey daughter, Tatu, sired by John Doyle (Ghadaf x Rabanna) who was a delightfully round and curvey, old-word looking horse. She really did not look like her dam *Bint Moniet el Nefous at all. In comparing and contrasting Ibby and Tornado, what do you see? Grey has always been a coat color that has helped even the plainest looking Arabian Horse appear more typey. Ibby has not yet fully turned grey, he is still in that phase of transition between chestnut and grey and at times, appears rose-colored, which in the setting sun, actually takes my breath away.  So, I think of all these things, the dominance of family characteristics, strain characteristics, the dominance of an individual horse in stamping his or her progeny with their unmistakable characteristics and I wonder over the coat color, indicating the intensity of the unique characteristics of the breed, in one individual. I wonder if there is more to the theory of color influencing phenotype? What do you think?

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Hard Day's Night


"It's been a hard day's night,
and I've been working like a dog
It's been a hard day's night,
I should be sleeping like a log..."-John Lennon & Paul McCartney, from their song, A Hard Day's Night
It's raining very hard today and nothing seems to be going right....well, I feel as gloomy on the inside as it looks outside. How to chase the blues away you might ask???

Give
me
more
Savanna,
straight up,
no ice.

AHHH...I love horses, don't you?

EnJoy Savanna...I know I feel better already!

Friday, May 7, 2010

The Moon Family


Some of the most beautiful horses ever bred by Fantasia Arabians are members of a family known by the name of "Moon"; a designation Marilyn Lang has given to this group of horses because they carry the blood of Bukra, with the added influence of RDM Maar Hala, a grand-daughter of Maar-Ree.

Fa Savanna Moon is a daughter of an*Ansata Ibn Halima son, the late Halim El Mansour, who was owned by Fantasia right up until his death. Her mother, who is also deceased, was the gorgeous mare Fa Bukra, out of the Ansata el Sherif daughter, SF Khala Zahra (out of the Babson mare, Sabrah, a Fabah daughter).

In addition to the Bukra line, Fa Savanna Moon has 4 lines to the mare Farida, who is found in the pedigrees of the most influential horses to ever leave Egypt. I can't help but notice the overall smoothness and the strong hind-ends which these horses have. The Farida horses are close-coupled, deep through the heart girth, with well sprung ribs supporting a strong top line, flowing into bigger hips, strong and smooth croups with generous and round, almost voluptuous hindquarters. A phenomenon that I have been noticing in some of our Egyptian horses has been the loss of substance and a more narrow built horse. Not so with the Faridas. They are wider and well-muscled, when viewed from behind! When the Faridas move, their hocks are so elastic, giving them the ability to drive powerfully off their hind end. I watch them closely and notice the strength these horses have in their backs and how they are able to reach far, far, far under themselves, generating huge force and a lot of power. It is as if these horses can curl the hind end down and forward, under themselves. Its amazing! All of the Faridas share common ground in this ability and even at an early age, the Faridas know how to use their backs to deliver this electrifying movement. WOW! Having seen so many horses with multiple crosses to Farida, I have arrived at my conclusion and I appreciate Farida's influence, which results in these qualities.

What I also appreciate in a mare like Savanna are the qualities that we know come from Maar Hala and cherish this most wonderful family for; that is, a well-defined bone structure in the face which gives the horse very prominent and chiseled features, including a larger-sized jowl, large and lustrous deep black eyes, teeny-tiny ears, which are wider at the bottom and sharp at the top, overall balance and charming personalities. These horses want to love you and be your friend. And to me, the only way to honor the Bedouin, as we move forward in these very modern times, is to produce horses who are able to live in close proximity with the humans who love them.