By Edouard Aldahdah
Posted on December 19th, 2009 in General
I still haven’t resolved a lingering dilemma that has been haunting me since I started ‘Daughter of the Wind’. In the course of this blog’s life, I have come across a lot of precious information I did not have access to before. That’s in no small part thanks to the readers of ‘Daughter of the Wind’, most of the time through personal emails.
A lot of this information is generally positive, in the sense that it confirms the asil status of a particular line. This for instance is the case of the Tunisian desert-bred import Barr, or the Egyptian desert-bred import El Nasser, who were been outcasts for decades until they were recently rehabilitated.
Sometimes the information is negative, in the sense that it throws the asil status of a particular line into serious doubt. In such cases what I usually do is try to go back to first-hand sources to verifiy it, or cross-check it with another indepedent sources. Sometimes things are clarified and everything falls back into place (ie, the line is asil). Sometimes, more research is needed to disentangle rumor from reality and the horse remains in limbo, at least as far I am concerned. Sometimes, the suspicion is confirmed and the horse is clearly not asil. And that’s where the headaches (and the dilemmas) start.
What should I do in these cases? Shut up and keep quiet? Keep saying only the positive things and play ”nice”? Or say the things that hurt and keep losing friends and friends-to-be? I have been wavering back and forth between these two stances, without managing to stick to one. I guess I ought to take it on a case by case basis.
Years and years ago, I dared voicing substantiated concerns about an obscure mare in the Syrian Studbook Vol.1 (thank God she died without progeny). I put these in writing through correspondance with a couple of vocal, tough, yet well meaning American ladies (no need to mention names). I ended up getting in trouble with some Syrian friends and I stopped talking to these ladies for years. The Syrian friends eventually forgave me “because I was young” and I later mended things with one of the American ladies, whom I can’t help liking despite what had happened. Still, I withdrew from the Arabian horse microcosm for three years,which in retrospect was not a bad thing, because I could focus on my studies.
More recently, I got into similar trouble by expressing doubts about another Syrian mare. This one was very prolific and her sons and daughters are all over the Syrian studbook (sigh). The matter immediately became an ”affaire d’etat”, a big fuss was made, and I lost more friends. Some Syrians and some non-Syrians don’t like it when some people criticize some of their horses in front of foreigners (I think ‘some’ repeated four times should provide enough of a protection here). They take it very personally, and to them it’s an issue of national pride. I quickly was dubbed a fool, a naive, an ignorant, or worse, a traitor. How could I know, was I told, since I was not there and was not even born at the time when the mare was bred? It didn’t matter if I said that I was merely relaying the suspicions of others, who were more informed but less willing to say things out loud. These suspicions couldn’t be true, was I also told, because (almost) nothing was written, which meant these allegations were baseless “rumors” conveyed by Bedouins, most of whom are ”liars” anyway. “Rumors”? All Bedouin history, stories, genealogies, lore, songs, poetry, and horse pedigrees are transmitted orally. Does that mean they should all be discounted? That sad story has barely subsided now.
Whatever the case, I learned my lesson, which was often repeated to by my father, the thoughtful and wise Lebanese Army General Salim Al-Dahdah: “Stay out of trouble, and do not say bad things about ANY Syrian horse. If you do not have something good to say about them, then don’t say anything”. This is the same piece of advice Thumper’s mother gave to her rabbit son in the Disney cartoon “Bambi”, of which my daughter Samarcande is a big fan. You will no doubt have noticed that I have heeded my father’s and Umm Thumper’s advice and only feature those Syrian horses I have really good things to say about, and, fortunately, there are many more good ones than not-so-good ones. This means you can be sure that every Syrian horse featured in this blog is irreproachably asil, first, because I don’t like to lie, and second, because I am not ready to say bad things about the others, so I stick to saying good things about the good ones. The stuff about the not-so-good ones will stay in the laptop.
At least I can trash most French horses, since France protects free speech.
But what about those horses about which I have things to say, which are not necessarily bad things, but which will run counter to the accepted wisdom? What about El Deree (who is genuine) and the fake pseudo-hujjah of his (which is a forgery)? What about the Tahawi horses which have been submitted for inclusion in the Al Khamsa Roster, and the Bisharat horses, which were accepted in Al Khamsa in 1995? What about the Tunisian head stallion Esmet Ali? What about the Khedive Abbas Hilmi’s El Halabi and his dam Halabia, who are in every other Arabian pedigree in the world? What about Nafaa al Saghira and her sire? I feel I have things to say here, again not necessarily bad things, just questions that I feel are legitimate, and I don’t want to alienate more people? What should I do?
Serious advice needed, please !!!I still havent’resoved the