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


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