All are asil

By Matthias Oster

Posted on June 14th, 2011 in General

A very interesting discussion started from a question of parentage [Note from Edouard cf. the post on Tabab below] leading to the question of who the bedouin horse is. Do the horses of Abbas Pasha and other Egytian notables belong to the authentic, asil Arabian horse or not? Can You call them bedouin horses the same way You call Davenports or Saudi lines bedouin horses?

My answer is : YES.

And if I understand Lady Anne right she had the same opinion. Just yesterday I have read in her journals correspondence the part about Davenport (before reading this) and she had questions regarding Davenport´s horses. How could he manage to bring so many pure Arabians home in such a short time? Achmet Hafez has been the key to this. Davenport states he was the head of all Aneze tribes. This is questioned by Lady Anne expressis verbis. My opinion is that Davenport did not understand who Achmet Hafez really was and therefore gave him the wrong title. My suggestion is that he was the Bab el Arab of the Aneze tribes for the pasha of Damascus [Note from Edouard: rather, of Aleppo]. He handled all questions regarding the tribes, but was not their chief.

To come back to my point: All the different groups within Al Khamsa are asil. There are questions we cannot answer, and everybody has the right to question some informations and to breed in his own ways. As a breeder of straight Egyptians I can find much inspiration and education for my breeding aims with all the other groups of Arabian horses, even with non asils. This is what makes this blog unique.

Mathias.

2 Responses to “All are asil”

  1. This is interesting and for me approaches the heart of my concerns for the breed.
    This is only my personal view based on my experience of working and travelling with Arab horses and my reading of the history of the breed.
    We know that the Arabian horse has been forged over millenia in the harshest possible environment, subject to the most extreme selection pressures.
    It is of course, the Bedouin to whom we owe this peerless horse, but not just to the Bedouin but to a way of life that has now passed.
    To war and hardship… a weak, unreliable, slow or clumsy horse would soon be dead or if lucky sold to the towns. Those who remained with the tribes, who were WORTH keeping in the context of an environment where keeping a horse would have been an severe liability, were possessed of the qualities that have always defined the Arab breed … endurance, speed, courage, loyalty, intelligence,and vitally in war… extreme agility and nimbleness.
    She must be fast, agile and loyal enough to survive in war, gentle enough to keep picketed in a camp crawling with children and beautiful enough to make life worth living… though the beauty of the Arab is , and I am quoting here ‘essentially that of utility’.
    As warfare changed the selection forces were forever altered, even Bedouin breeders today, who obviously deserve sincere respect for their knowledge and the blood of their horses are not of neccesity breeding to the criteria of their great-grandfathers… their lives no longer depend on their horses.
    So today, for me, the term desert bred does not carry the same weight as it may have 100 years ago.
    However, I would also question whether in the past, any Bedouin would sell his truly best mare… the toughest, most beloved and trusted war mare would not necessarily be the same beautiful horse that appealed to the refined tastes of Egyptian Pashas.
    I would bet that the very best blood never left the desert!

    So how can we be worthy inheritors of the Bedouin?
    In terms of blood…. well Asil is Asil, I take Matthias’s point on that.
    But in addition to selection for conformation and ‘type’ (horrible word)… I think that we should select for PERFORMANCE. I mean that we should do this out of respect for the breed and the Bedouin, not out of the desire to produce a modern ‘Arab sports horse’.
    War is no longer an option but endurance competition is about as close as we can get… it tests the ‘endurance'(ie cardiac and respiratory capacity, limb soundness, abilty to cover the ground effortlessly etc) as well as the generosity of the horse,so characterisic of the Arab, the willingness to dig deep when asked by the rider. Many other disciplines will test at least some of the riding qualities of the Arab, particularly those that demand that the horse use his intelligence.
    What is important to me is that the horses are ridden, really tested under saddle,as they so surely were in the past. I would never consider that one could truly judge an Arab horse without riding him, and if he does not give a dream ride, he is off type .. period, as they say in America!
    I don’t care how beautiful, or beautifully bred the horse is, if she would not get a Ghazi out of trouble and to safety, no matter how far that may be, she could not be considered a truly valuable mare.
    One of my favourite expressions was one that I heard from Hazaim Al Wair, of which Edouard knows the source… a particular strain was commended by the Bedouin ”Because blood is never spilt on their backs” this is the gold standard, the Bedouin standard which should never be forgotten.
    The nice side-effect of breeding on these lines is that the horses bred will be likely to be superb riding horses who easily find good lifelong homes and will be great ambassadors for the breed.
    I realise that a lot of the above may seem to be off the point but I don’t believe that it is.Of course purity of blood is of supreme importance, but that alone is not enough. The dog breeds provide many horrific examples of what happens when a breed does not keep faith with it’s original purpose and utility.
    Sorry to rant but it breaks my heart that modern fashion and commerce are betraying the inheritance of thousands of years.

  2. No rant Lisa but a soulful expression of the Arabian horse. definitely, the horse inspires you and that is beautiful. Thanks.

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