Desert bred horses in Syria, 1985-86

By Edouard Aldahdah

Posted on December 28th, 2017 in Syria

While scanning old photos this morning, I happened on these two photos. There is a story to them.

One evening in 1985 or 1986, a Lebanese visitor came to see my father in Beirut, and left the two photos behind. He spoke emphatically about his trip to the Syrian Jazirah (Upper Mesopotomia in North Eastern Syria today) and the desert-bred horses he had seen there. I was seven or eight years old, I did not catch much of the conversation but the photos made a lasting impression on me.

It was in the middle of the Lebanese civil war, communications between Syria and the part of Lebanon we lived in were infrequent and difficult, and most Lebanese horsemen involved in the Lebanese horse racing scene, including my father, were convinced that no more good, authentic, pure desert-bred horses were left in the Syrian desert, because of the degenerescence of the breed and its contamination by  part-bred Arabs from Iraq. “You will only find leftovers there”, my father was once told.

These photos and the visitor’s description showed otherwise, just at a time when the Syrian breeders were launching a large-scale effort to register all the horses of the Bedouins. Indeed, there were good desert-bred horses left, and that was the start of my interest in desert-bred Arabians.

I know nothing about the horse, his rider, or the exact place the photo was taken. I am not even sure if the photos show two separate horses, or just one.

2 Responses to “Desert bred horses in Syria, 1985-86”

  1. Both photos, to my eye, show horses highly reminiscent a Davenport imports (from a similar geography) and present day Davenport Arabians.

  2. Look at the size of the leg bone on the horse with the rider. No toothpick legged show horses here.!
    best
    Bruce Peek

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