By Edouard Aldahdah
Posted on February 27th, 2012 in General
A lady from Illinois recently sent me these snapshots of Wilbur Coates Ma’naqi Sbayli stallion Dakhala Sabiq (Prince Hal x Sirrulya by HJulyan), bred by Jeanne Craver. They were taken at a local show in Illinois. I now own Sabiq’s niece, Dakhala Sahra, by Plantagenet out of Soiree by Sir x Sirrulya.
I must say that this specific type of Arabian horse strikes a strong cord with me, because it’s reminiscent of the horses of my childhood, the ones I learned to ride on. The horse riding clubs around Beirut were full of former racehorses that hailed from Syria, had moderate or no success on the racetrack — which by then was dominated by the part-bred Arabs from Iraq. so the asils had no chance of winning — and ended their careers as children mounts.
Each club appeared to have its own old grey Arabian horse, a dream-like individual of regal type, worthy of Cindarella’s carriage that was the favorite of all the children. In East Beirut during the civil war (1975-1990), it was Sultan, on whom I learned to ride ( I will try to dig up a photo); in West Beirut after the war (1991-2000) it was Burhan, on whom I had my first jumping competitions; in Aleppo it was Mabruk. They were of perfect temperament and conformation, impossible to fault, and I had always wondered, without ever daring to ask my father, why these superior horses were not breeding stallions everybody rushed to breed from, and what they were doing in these god-forsaken riding clubs. The naive pre-teenager I was assumed that that they somehow deserved to be where they were, because they had defects I couldn’t see, or because their origins were unknown. I tried hard to identify these defects. Sometimes I would ask about their origins and the groom would give me their strains and previous owners. I didn’t know what to make of all this. It was only as I grew up that I realized that some horses are simply unlucky, and that people don’t always choose the best horse, or the purest, or the most authentic to become a stallion. Recently, I had a flashback of these thoughts when I saw the 25 year old stallion Medici (Florentine x HB Wadduda by Mariner) at Shirley Jacobsen’s in West Viriginia. He had spent all his career at the circus without ever having a foal, and I thought he worthy of being a well-used stallion.
The stallion Dakhala Sabiq in these amateur pictures reminds me a lot of these horses of my childhood. It’s that gentle look in the eyes (“come on, let me take you on a ride”), that dark skin around the eyes, that straight yet handsome profile, these long eyelashes and mobile eyes, large sockets, huge cheekbones, silky skin, straight legs, balanced conformation, tail set high in the air even when walking, upright carriage, and overall look of a “big small horse” that never tires, and patiently tolerates all your newbie mistakes.