It seems that every horse coffee table book I’ve ever picked up from a book store bargain table always includes Arabian horses. I started thinking about this because I was disappointed that the book pictured above doesn’t contain one of my favorite breeds, Marwari. But then I thought, well, I guess it would be pretty impossible to include every breed of horse in every coffee table book. But then I thought further and realized they always include Arabians. (At least the ones I’ve seen.)
This book even has one section completely devoted to them:
While the rest of the breeds are grouped into categories:
A quote from the book: “With his tiny curved ears, large liquid eyes, extravagantly dished face and luxurious mane and tail, the Arabian is the horse of dreams.”
Another quote: “This beautiful ancient breed is thought to go as far back as 3000BC and has strongly influenced many of today’s more modern breeds of horse.”
I’ve been aware for some time that the Arabian horse influenced many other breeds, most notably the thoroughbred through the three foundation stallions;
The Byerley Turk:
The Darley Arabian:
And the Godolphin Arabian (my personal favorite):
(I’ll write more about these three Arabians in another post.) I was surprised to learn that Arabians also directly influenced the American Quarter Horse. Growing up in Texas, it always seemed that Quarter Horse owners and Arabian owners are of different mindsets. It still seems that way actually. So other than a little Arabian blood coming through to the American Quarter Horse via early Thoroughbred foundation stallions, I had no idea that there were full blooded Arabians among the early Quarter Horses until I read an article in the December 2018 issue of Equus that mentioned two Crabbet-bred Arabians who were direct sire-line descendants of Mesaoud, one of the foundation sires of the Crabbet Arabian Stud in England.
The stallions were Astraled and Ribal:
I never tire of learning about Arabian horses and their influence on other breeds and their appearance throughout human history. I have much more to learn about the Arabian horse, but as in everything I love, I am a life-long learner. I welcome comments and additional information as I know this blogpost just barely scratches the surface. I’m learning as I write!
Just for fun I’m going to write a series of short stories centered around my little rescue horse, Timmy. Here’s the first one, and some characters from these stories will end up in my Fyrestorm novel. Timmy is just so cute I felt compelled to write stories about him too! Hope you guys like it!
Gina shimmied under a low spot beneath the white, pipe fence separating the front pasture of Kuhaylah Arabians from the road, and the pony trotted right up to her as always. She pulled the carrot from her pocket and, not wasting any time, he took the entire treat in his mouth before the rest of the herd noticed. The pony was the smallest of the bunch and not a purebred, like the rest of them. He was a cutie though, a beautiful coppery, golden color, with a dishwater blonde mane and tail and a jagged, white, blaze running the full length of his face to the tip of his nose. And on this lovely Spring day, his slick coat glistened in the sun. The pony didn’t leave after he finished the carrot, but stayed with Gina. She was drawn to him because she was an outsider in her circles too. And, like him, she had dishwater blonde hair, although it was cuter on him in her opinion. Gina felt less than cute with her skinny body, flat chest and long, stringy, often tangled, hair.
Gina spoke softly to the pony, rubbing his neck and scratching his cheek, the way he liked. “I love you little boy, I wish I could stay here with you,” she said as she started to cry. She hugged his neck as the events of the previous day came crashing back into her brain.
“We have to add Gina Targoff to the list,” Chet whispered.
“Of course! She should be at the top!” responded Carrie, in a louder whisper. Chet, Carrie and their minions all giggled.
Gina was keeping her head down, pretending to read whatever textbook she had opened in front of her. She refused to cry; she would not show them weakness. Even though Gina knew they were whispering loud enough for her to hear on purpose. Dale City High School was almost a daily exercise in humiliation. She fought back the tears though…
“Yeah Gina is definitely the ugliest girl in the school,” said Chet.
They all laughed again.
The golden pony put his head on Gina’s shoulder as if he was trying to comfort her. She hugged him tighter and just let the tears flow until there were no more, but she continued to hug him, just taking in his horsey scent and allowing it and the quiet to calm her mind.
“Timmy has really taken to you,” said a voice behind Gina. One with the slightest hint of an accent, an accent from another country though, not rural Texan as Gina had grown accustomed to.
Gina straightened and jumped back a step from the pony in one quick move.
“I’m sorry. I know I’m not supposed to be here,” said Gina looking up at the woman astride a black, Arabian stallion, solid black save a small white star on his forehead.
“Come closer girl,” said the woman.
Gina walked toward her and saw that she was probably around her father’s age. She was attractive, with an exotic look about her. She had her long brown hair pulled back with a black velvet scrunchy. But then Gina’s eyes were drawn back to the horse. So much like the black stallion she had read about, except the one in the books was solid black. But this stallion before her had the same wild look of the one in the books; thick black mane, forelock blowing in the breeze about his face, and a thick, flowing tail. He pranced about a bit and snorted a couple of times. The woman said something to him that Gina couldn’t quite hear, and he settled down.
“What is your name?” asked the woman.
“Gina…Gina Targoff,” Gina answered. “Please don’t have me arrested. I’ll never come on your property again.”
The woman laughed. But in a lilting way, not in a, you’re damn right you’re going to jail, kinda way.
“I was actually thinking of offering you a job. I’ve watched you with Timmy. You two have formed quite a bond.”
“Timmy, a cute name, for a cute little boy!” said Gina.
The woman laughed again. “My name is Renata Silva and I am the owner of this ranch. So, what about the job?” Renata asked.
“I don’t know anything about horses or ranches,” Gina answered.
“Do you know how to drag a water hose or carry buckets?”
“Umm, yes…” answered Gina.
“Okay, good. We’ll start with that.”
Gina jumped when something firm and soft rubbed the small of her back. She spun around and little Timmy nuzzled her chest. Gina reached out and stroked his face.
“He loves you and trusts you. You’re a natural with horses,” said Renata.
“He’s so sweet. May I ask how he came to be here among…” began Gina.
“…among all these purebred Arabians?” said Renata finishing her sentence.
“Well…yes. Is it rude to ask?” said Gina.
Renata laughed again. A sound like music to Gina. “No, it’s not rude, Gina. He was my horse, when I was a young girl in Brazil. The story of how he and I came to be here in this small north Texas town is a long one,” Renata said with a smile on her face. “Spend a little more time with Timmy and then head up to the big house and I’ll show you around,” said Renata as she wheeled her black stallion around and galloped up the hill toward the house.
Gina watched the beautiful woman in control of such a magnificent animal and couldn’t help wishing that could be her one day. She turned back to Timmy and gave him a hug. “Did you hear that boy? Now I can see more of you and no more sneaking around!” One of the chestnut Arabian mares had come closer, curious about this skinny, young girl in the big pasture. Timmy laid back his ears and turning on a dime chased her off as if to say, “This is my girl!”
Gina laughed, for the first time since she could remember. It had been a long, emotional journey from Dallas to Dale City. Even though they were only an hour apart, they were years apart in cultures, and the students of Dale City High did not respond well to a newcomer. For the very first time in a long time, Gina felt like she was where she belonged.
All modern Arabian horses are said to descend from five original mares. There are many versions of the story of Al Khamsa, but the one that seems to be the most popular is the one in which it is said that after a long journey, Mohammed released his band of horses to drink water at an oasis, but then blew his battle horn and only five of the mares stopped and returned to their master in spite of their great thirst. The legend goes that these five mares were chosen to be the foundation mares for the Arabian breed because of their loyalty to their master.
The five strains named after these mares are, Keheilan, Seglawi, Abeyan, Hamdani, and Hadban, or various spellings there of.
In her book, The Classic Arabian Horse, Judith Forbis tells an albeit less magical story about the origin of the five mares in which several tribes from Yemen come to visit the prophet Mohammed and present him with “five magnificent mares, belonging to five different races of which Arabia was then said to boast.” In her version, Mohammed steps out of his tent, caresses them and says, “Blessed be ye, O Daughters of the Wind.”
Also in Forbis’s book she states that Carl Raswan, who was a well known historian of early Egyptian Arabians and lived among Arab tribes for over a decade, did not acknowledge all five strains. “Raswan divided the Arabian breed into three main strains,…Saklawi was representative of feminine elegance, grace, and refinement, while Kuhaylan, signified masculinity, strength, boldness and power. The Muniqi strain was of a racier build, usually more developed in the forehand and lighter behind.”
The Al Khamsa may be stuff of legend, but according to alkhamsa.org, “Any horse in North America that Al Khamsa, Inc. believes, after study, to descend entirely from Arabian horses bred by the nomadic Bedouin horse breeding-tribes of the Arabian Peninsula is an Al Khamsa Arabian.”
The passage that follows my little intro was written by Lisa Vaughan Carter about her beloved horse, Just Touch. Touch is the oldest horse at The Franch at the ripe old age of 30, but doesn’t look a day over 9! He is a sweet boy and I love bringing him in to the barn for the evening on Sundays! I remember telling Lisa when I first met her that I liked the “cut of his jib”! He’s a special horse with a special owner, who has provided him with a wonderful forever home at The Franch!
The story of Just Touch: I’ve always loved horses. I never owned one as a child but, always wanted to. When I was 29 my boyfriend told me I needed to “get a hobby”. I thought about what I loved to do the most, I remembered how much I loved riding horses as a kid. I started taking horseback riding lessons, which gave me the bug. I got rid of the boyfriend and bought my first horse. I found a beautiful 14yo solid black, with a white star, Tennessee Walking Horse named Just Touch. I had no idea what I was doing; I learned some very hard lessons about horseback riding and caring for a horse. He was a very good teacher and I landed on my butt quite a few times those first few years. Touch has always been a stoic solitary guy. He has had many friends who adored him but, he never seemed to care much who was around. We had so many adventures together. We traveled to Oklahoma, Arkansas and all over Texas to ride the trails together. Unfortunately, when Touch was 26 he was diagnosed with EPM. We treated him for 6 months and I made the difficult decision, for his safety and mine, to quit riding him permanently. He now loves retirement, at 30 years old. I have loved having him in my life for the past 16 years. He gives me a sweet subtle whinny when he sees me coming, not too loud so no one thinks he is too excited to see his mama. I cherish each day I have with this sweet horse.