How MtDNA helped identify remains of English King Richard III

By Edouard Aldahdah

Posted on February 4th, 2013 in General

See what you could with mtDNA? Modern breeders who knowingly cheated with Arabian female lines should be scared…

“Despite this, a team of enthusiasts and historians traced the likely area – and, crucially, also found a 17th-generation descendant of Richard’s sister with whose DNA they could compare any remains recovered. Genealogical research eventually led to a Canadian woman called Joy Ibsen. She died several years ago but her son, Michael, who now works in London, provided a sample. The researchers were fortunate as, while the DNA they were looking for was in all Joy Ibsen’s offspring, it is only handed down through the female line and her only daughter has no children. The line was about to stop […]. She added: “There is a DNA match between the maternal DNA of the descendants of the family of Richard III and the skeletal remains we found at the Greyfriars dig. In short, the DNA evidence points to these being the remains of Richard III.”

Read the full article here, and a related article here.


46 Responses to “How MtDNA helped identify remains of English King Richard III”

  1. Edouard: See this is why the registry folks should make use of mtdna to root out the partbreds being passed off as full bloods and expell them from the studbooks..In a related development there is an ad in Al Khamsas’ website about the sad dissolution of a stud whose woner has lost his money and has to sell off his horses. His horses go back to Nafa’a(sp)the Kuhaylan Abdul Aziz ibn Saud gift mare to Inshass who wasn’t listed with a substrain. I think Bin Saud gave her to Farouks father when the Saudi Govt. was trying to to Dee-Horse the Bedouin following the failed Ikhwan rebellion. The current owner of the Kuhaylan non-substrained horses tracked down the horses and tried to do a restorative breeding plan. Aiui( as i understand it)Hansi Melnyck imported the non substrained Kuhaylan Inshass descended mare and bred the horses for good movement. Anyways the guy states in his ad that these horses have been mTdna typed back to saudi horses, but that these horses are genetically unique.
    Best Wishes
    Bruce Peek

  2. I am certainly NOT the most knowledgeable person in the world on the procedures and policies of the AHA, but I had thought that when mtDNA has shown a case of at least switched identities, that the AHA has opted not to correct pedigrees because it would be an onerous task. (My paraphrasing, not a quote.)

    With this as precedent, it doesn’t seem to me that it’s at all likely that the AHA is going to root out descendants of a “questionable” horse and unregister those offspring. For other registries, in other countries, who could say? Certainly not me.

  3. The registries will not do this, but buyers and breeders could start to demand it.

  4. If I understand the results of the so far done mtDNA testings it seems not possible at all to descern between asil and not asil horses. And much more: There are a lot of results done within our asil population questioning our pedigrees.
    Still in some cases the mtDNA testing helps solving questions, but for me it has aroused far more questions than answers.
    Maybe it is now time to discuss those?

  5. yeah Matthias in some cases there are no longer desert origin lines that are still asil down to this day and age. However wouldn’t it be possible by testing horses with the same mtdna to determine what their tail female was and then test similar pedigreed stock with say crosses to Skowronek for example, to see where the non arabian blood came into the line of descent? A good example might be the Abeya tail female horses here in the U.S.
    The asil lines to Abeya have died out according to the studbook. But isn’t there a chance that the davenport descended – but outcrossed to skowronek Abeya tail female horses would show the same mtdna as other Abeyan line horses, which are still Asil, say Eygyptian or Saudi Abeyans?
    Best wishes
    Bruice Peek

  6. can it be that the mtdna tests opens a pandora box?

  7. I don’t believe Edouard is talking about determining asil status by using mtDNA. This refers to people who knowingly and fraudulently substituted a different mare for the one identified in registration papers.
    For instance, breeding an Arabian stallion to an Arabian x American Saddlebred mare and selling the foal as a purebred by giving an Arabian mare’s identity as the dam.

  8. Jenny is right. It can only be used to check recorded historical (versus pre-historical) information.

    E.g., a mare dies at a private breeder in country X. She is a money maker, all her foals sell for big bucks. She has not been been DNA or bloodtyped (which was common in many countries in say, the 1960s). The owner is tempted to register the offspring of another, unregistered mare, as this mare’s offspring, and keep the big bucks coming. Come the blood-typing authorities. They ask for the first mare. Instead of saying the mare died, the owner says “here she is”, pointing to the new mare, which is then registered and bloodtyped. The new mare is ‘hidden’ in a back stall, so that those who recall the old mare do not see her and notice the differences, but her offspring continue to spring, year after year.

    A lot of that stuff happened.

    Today, with MtDNA it is easy to test whether the descendants of the second mare (the ringer) match the offspring of the first, or other horses known to be maternally related to the first.

  9. Oh Okay I see, so you could look at mare Xs’ first or second foal, compare their mtdna, to Mare X, and then look at Mare Xs’ 5th foal down the line and see if there is a mismatch. Then if there is a mismatch you have caught the crooked breeder..Good idea,when are the Al Khamsa and Asil Breeder associations going to demand that the registries do the comparisons? As someone considering buying a foundation mare I know I wouldn’t even think about it unless the selling party could produce double blind independently verified mtdna test results.
    Best wishes
    Bruce Peek

  10. Are you really considering buying a foundation mare Bruce?

  11. Well the seller has accepted my offer on a place west of here.. Probably too small, only 4 acres. But I know of people who have made things work with less land than that..Given the parlous economic times with people having to re-home and adopt out horses I should probably take in some of those unable to be cared for rather than add to the population. I suspect that the main reason why there are so many unwanted arabs out there is that most of us only have mid level horsemanship skills and really can’t handle hot blooded horses. Because the,” Arab Industry,” with its show system is largely controlled by professional trainers there has been very little selective pressure for trustworthy dispositions. This leads to people deciding to get out of horses altogether when the economy contracts

  12. It has also been used to prove that some Polish foundation mares previously regarded as suspect do have desert mtDNA ie do trace in tail female to a Bedouin mare…I believe (but will check…have the paper somewhere) that they shared mtDNA with Rodania. This does not of course make their offspring Asil, but is significant in terms of the bigger picture and may possibly make the difference to a horse with only one or two Polish lines.

    mtDNA is extremely useful in certain circumstances as Edouard illustrates, but is limited essentially to confirming tail female line. For example, Skowronek aside one horse in my Crabbet horses pedigrees that I feel is not well authenticated is Dwarka…yet he is accepted as Asil and MtDNA won’t help us here…
    I would love if they could test Skowronek..I know Lady W claimed that his Skeleton had an ‘Arab’ vertebra count…does anyone know where/if he was buried??
    Bruce,as ever I agree absolutely with all that you have said though if you do buy a foundation mare of course you will be breeding horses that are precious in their own terms as well as cultural and historical terms and from what I know of you will be also useful well conformed and cooperative in character so will certainly find loving lifelong homes and live out long and useful lives ( Insh’Allah)so for allI agree that we should condemn overbreeding I would say ‘best of luck to you’,it’s not like your churning out yet another show-ring weed.
    One thing that I have noticed as a vet overthe years is that in hard time responsible breeders of good horses cut back their breeding programs and those who indisciminately breed poor stock carry on regardless…with the obvious cascadeof negative consequences for horses in general.
    Your Asils will be WELL worth breeding!!

  13. Well if I were to breed it would certainly be to a stallion that has an observed and verified performance record. Looking at the Endurance ride conference list of Jim Jones stallion award winners I have found a couple that were asil, and a couple with cmk and new eygyptian and cmk breeding. In addition if a stallion can finish an endurance ride it says a lot about their trainability. There have been several stallions over the years which have proven unable to consistently finish endurance rides, and imo these would be ones to avoid along with those who have only been used for halter competition.
    Skowroneks vertebral count, apparently of 5 lumbars, according to Judy Wentworth could also be taken as proof that he had Tarpan blood as well arabian. Deb Bennets surveys of lumbar length led her to the conclusion that,” short backness,” was a trait shown by 30 percent of Arabians, and 30 percent of other breeds which were founded and influenced by the Afro-Turkic
    Best Wishes
    Bruce Peek

  14. Hi Bruce,
    I agree of course, that as well as seriously testing the structural soundness and just about every body system, endurance will test the horses generosity.. the willingless to dig deep for his/her rider, and in such terms his loyalty and for me loyalty and generosity, particularly when the going gets tough are the hallmarks of an Arabian. I am really very much looking forward to seeing the lovely horses that I am sure will be the result of your sound breeding plans :)!!
    As for Lady Wentworth, of course the vertebrae count does not prove anything one way or another, I only mentioned it because it showed that Skowronek had been PM’d and therefore his remains may have been buried in a known location. However I am very surprised to read that she ever even mentioned Tarpan, everything I have read that she wrote including her spirited defence of Skowronek at the end of later editions of The Authentic Arabian Horse ( in which I beleive she gives the thoracic vertebrae count not only lumbar) would indicate her absolute conviction of his purity. Her arguments in typical Wentworth style being extremely vigorous, in some respects compelling but extremely selective of the facts!!
    While I am here just to clarify, as you know I am not a pedigree expert CMK are not I assume regarded as Asil? ( back to our friend Skowronek…) or does the Crabbet part of this group only include Blunt or pre-Skowronek horses??

  15. the MtDNA being discussed here is a dispassionate science. As I understand it MtDNA can only be a tool for establishing root female identities and in comparing data, can show pedigree relationships of various recorded female lines.

    It cannot define “asil” and it cannot prove motives or reasons for incongruities. Those are separate issues.

    It cannot even define strains because “strains” is a cultural issue that has proven to evolve over time according to various circumstances.

    As for Dwarka, if his connection to India is of concern, then he is in the company of some very important early Arabians such as the Blunt’s stallion Hadban (from Bombay), sire of Rose of Sharon, and the renowned early English sire Maidan (GSB) used in England and sire of the American import Nazli. There is no escaping the need for making reasonable assumptions as to tribal origins.

  16. Joe I think everyone understands that it just can be used to confirm tail female, Edouard used the example of a mare ringer.
    MtDNA is just a tool that will be used in certain cases to expose fraud and it may in some cases cause a horse or line to lose it’s status as Asil, conversely it may authenticate certain tail female lines, previously questioned .
    As for Dwarka and your comments re Hadban and Maidan..
    The Blunts purchased Hadban (which in itself does count for something as far as I am concerned in terms of Lady Blunt’s meticulous attention to the authenticity of all her imports) and we have the following information ‘Bred by Jakin Ibn Aghil, Sheikh of the Daajini tribe of Oteybeh, a tribe of the Western Nejd, from whom he was purchased as a 5 year old by Ali ibn Amr of Bussora and Bombay, for 500 rials and exported to Bombay in the Autumn of 1883.Purchased from Ali ibn Amr on 13 Dec, soon after landing in Bombay for 1217 rupees.
    Maidan was NOT purchased by the Blunts of course though had a certificate of authentication (for what that is worth!!) from Abd er Rahman of Bombay…may well be Asil but again weak authentication in my view.
    There is little information about Dwarka, (again NOT a Blunt horse), prior to his export to India (except references to his ‘high catse and ‘Anazeh country’).
    I am not saying that Dwarka was not Asil..I sincerely hope that he was as he does appear in the pedigree of one of my horses BUT I feel that the ‘Asil’ bar seems to be a little flexible on occasions!!I am not an expert AT ALL and am ready to be corrected on the above….

    I just feel consistency, honesty and openness are very important, Asil horses are of extreme value of course but even those with the blood of Dwarka, Maidan and dare I say it Skowronek are Arabs worthy of the name but we should just be aware of any questionable lines and breed away from them where possible. It is of course vital to vigorously protect,maintain and expand the truly Asil population equally to debar extremely polluted horses from the studbooks and this is what mtDNA may occasionally make possible, note ‘possible’, whether such debarment would ever happen is another matter.

    With respect

  17. Skowronek’s skull is in the British Museum, along with Dwarka’s and Bint Nura’s and a number of others.

  18. Lisa, I need to clarify, I don’t beleive Lady Wentworth ever even said the words Tarpan in connection to any of her horses. (Possibly to prevent the cat from
    getting out of the bag)But my use of the descriptive term Tarpan and its likely connection to Skowronek derives from the native Polish horses the landed gentry top crossed to their arabians. Thoroughbreds were also used, and not just in Poland, in fact all over Europe native descended horses were covered by Desert breds. Records of specific origins were lost or destroyed by war, political upheaval, linguistic incompetence etc. Some of the records and stud books did survive for example the Babolna stud book is said to be quite complete and accurate. Babolnas accuracy most likely was influenced by general al Haddad(sp)and Tibor Pettko von Szandter both having been in charge of the place during much of its recent history.
    best wishes
    Bruce Peek

  19. Well I didn’t know that Jeanne! I was only there a few months ago for the Arabia to Royal Ascot exhibition.
    Having said that I must check was Ilinecka one of the mares in the Polish MtDNA study in any case?

  20. Fair enough Bruce, and I know that you are right, of course most Arabian stallions imported into Europe before the C19th were used to upgrade local stock. However in fairness to the Poles they had been importing and breeding ‘pure’ Arabians for a couple of centuries before Britain or America and for all that Hungary produced the (very useful) ‘Shagya’, they too had a pure-breeding program alongside, as you know, (I was lucky enough to be taken on a tour of Babolna by the stud vet in 2005 and loved some of the older stallions though fashion did seem to be taking it’s toll on the breeding program at the time.)
    In Poland’s case, as you say, records have been lost in all the successive catastrophes, but indeed, it has now been proved by MtDNA that some foundation mares who may have been ‘accused’ of being native Polish have been shown to trace in female line to the desert.
    I don’t doubt at all that there are impurities in the Polish lines as Prince Sangusko himself admitted. However it is now a proven fact that some of the damlines are pure in tail female line, Arabian, not ‘Tarpan’ foundation mares after all!

    BTW re Dwarka his vertebra count was apparently T17 L6 !

  21. Lisa I understand your points. I did not mean to imply that Maidan was a Blunt horse or used by them. He was used by Miss Dillon who was an early English breeder in the Blunt era as well as a customer of the Blunts.

    I understand also your point about the meticulous nature of Lady Anne Blunt at getting the most details of provenance possible. I certainly wish all of her English contemporaries as well as every other importer of Arabians worldwide had her standards. Their not having done so just leaves us wanting more now but does not necessarily infer the horses were not contemporary in provenance in their era. For some the details just simply did not matter that much to them. This is the same problem all over the world where, back then, horses often were first obtained for their empirically observed quality in the eye of the beholder and then once acquired the horses served their purposes in the absence of any uniform need to conform to national (and international) registration standards. The degree to which they solicited detailed information varied greatly. As an aside, I would be curious as to your opinion of the pedigree of Dargee, re-introduced into Crabbet Stud by Lady Wentworth.

    Getting back to the MtDNA discussion, I think the science will surprise us more in the future about our assumptions as to matters of record and identity, and likely more than just one breeding group. Perhaps it will remind us of the imperfections of past recorded pedigrees. But I think we must not prematurely attempt to throw out certain lines without trying to visualize the bigger picture of how do we go forward.

    As we continue to research, some of the inconsistencies have revealed that the new genetic source is still one we approve of so should we all of a sudden avoid these bloodlines which MtDNA says is a different strain or female line? Can we live with changed identities? Some of these changes which MtDNA has brought to life such as the Bint Yamama line and the Schilla line, are footnoted in the AKAIII book, but it is likely that there will be more issues going forward, and it is very important to the genetic vitality of the future Al Khamsa or “asil” bloodlines that we realize there are only so many choices remaining and we must be very careful in our discriminations.

    The discussion presented in this thread raises an interesting question: Are the Al Khamsa or “asil” oriented people willing to deal with the situation that the Spanish Arabian breeders had to do with the Veragua horses in Spain where, because of the Spanish Civil War. We are unable to know the original pedigree of each of these Veragua mares other than they were given names starting with a “V” in order to start over and go forward. Is this what will have to be done in the future for the remaining “asil” horses in Syria caught up in their civil war or in other unresolved pedigrees in the future? DNA is a dispassionate science and I think it will continue to challenge our thinking about pedigrees for a long time to come.

  22. You are right Joe, Dargee is the source of the Dwarka blood and also the quite hideous (from his photos) Mootrub who in terms of provenance falls into the same category as Dwarka, Maidan et al. Dargee of course was a ‘Wentworth’ horse not Blunt.
    I agree that it is a shame that Lady Blunt was unique in the standards that she set for authentication and more so that all her efforts to collect pure blood were forever contaminated by the actions of Lady Wentworth( excepting a very few horses today).
    She was exasperated by Miss Dillon and had a low opinion of some of her horses, especially El Emir and probably turns in her grave at the actions of her daughter.
    It has to be said that in terms of phenotype the suspect horses both the beautiful Skowronek (suspect being an understatement) and Dargee(‘the incomparable’)were great progenitors of Arabian ‘type’ and extremely successful sires, their ‘class’ clearly evident down the generations, but the pedigree stain will be there forever.
    You are right I think, the Asil community has a lot of thinking to do and better done now calmly than when perhaps a horse is proven to be suspect and everyone gets defensive and objectivity goes out of the window but this is outside my sphere, though I will follow with interest.

  23. I don’t think it’s fair to place *Maidan and Mootrub in the same category. Maidan was from Abd al-Rahman al-Minni’s Bombay’s stables, just like Rataplan and Hadban (BLT). That was reportedly someone who was getting his supply of racing horses from Arabia Deserta, at least according to LAB.

  24. Fair enough Edouard, there is a difference between the two.
    I just meant that all of that group of old English horses have lower standards of authentication than the ‘Blunt’ Crabbets imo 🙂

  25. Yes, I agree. There are worse ones than Mootrub though: Zoowar, Crosbie, Outlaw..

  26. Regarding other DB horses in Dargee’s pedigree: poor El Emir, he was indicated as having come from the Shammar. Perhaps if he looked more pleasing to Lady Anne and others he might not have taken such criticism, though he too did not have the scope of details Lady Anne would have required. Then of course Raswan was very critical of him and that did not help, yet in the bigger picture he at least has some mentioned connection to a Bedouin tribe. I am surprised that no one commented on the mare Ishtar in Dargee’s pedigree. El Emir and Ishtar are often together in the early American imports and regardless of the criticism, so many excellent early American Arabians of both quality and type descend from them.

  27. Yes Joe it is true Ishtar seems to have had no provenance though it is suggested in the commentary in ‘Journals and Correspondence’ that she should be credited with any decent horses in the descent of El Emir.
    He seems to have been condemned as an awful horse in several respects by knowledgable contempories and it seems only produced good progeny from this one mare, at least as sires, ‘with the possible exception of Zemzem out of Hagar’.NB This is paraphrasing the views expressed in ‘Journals and Correspondence’,not my opinion…I don’t have an opinion on this matter as I am not well enough informed regarding this horse and his get.
    I will say one thing for El Emir however..he certainly captured Etheldred Dillon’s heart and the ability to make a lifelong dedicated devotee of their ‘owner’ is a classic Arabian trait in my experience !! 🙂

  28. That said, pedigree wise, El Emir’s is one of the most detailed non Blunt imports to the UK: e.g., bred by Dehmedi Zoba Ibn Amoud, Sire: Kuhaylan Sueti of the Shammar, etc.

  29. Right Edouard. That is my feeling also. And if Ishtar was given the benefit of the doubt El Emir should not have been doubted either. It is too bad that he was such a plain horse although an excellent performer and tireless servant for many who owned him. But the taint on him sadly caused the loss to Al Khamsa of many otherwise superior early American bred Arabians in the US who went on to become the backbone of the best CMK horses as well as many of today’s international champions and sires of champions such as Gazal Al Shaqab, who has El Emir and Ishtar, as well as double Dwarka. In addition Gazal’s famous son Marwan Al Shaqab not only has multiple lines to these early English DBs but is tail female to the Blunt’s early mare Wild Thyme whose dam line was preserved by Miss Dillon.

  30. Yes, I believe at least one of the Slawuta taproot mares at the base of Polish pedigrees is a mtDNA match with a dam line regarded as asil. That the Polish mare’s female line actually had a desert Bedouin origin is one possible interpretation, but the mtDNA results do not “prove” such. The only thing it proves is a common female line ancestor somewhere, at some time. Where or when the common ancestress lived is still unknown.

    So to make up an example, if Woloszka turned out to be an mtDNA match with El Dahma, would that mean that Woloszka actually had a desert origin, or would it mean that El Dahma actually had a Polish origin? Or would it mean that they have a common female ancestress so ancient that she pre-dates domestication of the horse?

    I believe the Iliniecka or Liniecka female line is extinct. An mtDNA sample could probably still be obtained from Skowronek’s physical remains at the British Museum. His hide is there, too.

    Yes, horses regarded as non-asil can still yield mtDNA samples of their tail-female lines. This sort of sampling was in fact done when Prince Mohamed Ali’s Bint Yamama line was compared to the line from Lady Anne Blunt’s mare Makbula, of the Kehilan Jellabi strain, purchased from Ali Pasha Sherif, through Makbula’s daughter Kibla (by Mesaoud). The Kibla dam line exists through the Selby importations, so those were the horses used for samples of Makbula’s mtDNA, but the modern descendants are not Al Khamsa horses.

    Homer Davenport’s *Abeyah and Lady Anne Blunt’s Queen of Sheba are both registered as Abeyan strain, but they are not an mtDNA match.

    Some CMK horses are regarded as asil. Two examples are the Doyle horses and the straight Davenport horses.

    A note on British titles: Lady Anne Blunt had the courtesy title of “Lady” because her father was an Earl (specifically, he was the Earl of Lovelace). The courtesy title of “Lady” is used for the daughters of Dukes, Marquesses, and Earls (but not the daughters of Viscounts or Barons). The courtesy title is added before the person’s name, thus Lady Anne Blunt. The courtesy title is still used after the death of the lady’s father, but it is not inherited by her children, thus Lady Anne’s daughter Judith was Miss Blunt as a young woman and became Mrs. Lytton after she married (later of course she became Lady Wentworth). The husband of the courtesy title holder is not entitled to a courtesy title, thus Lady Anne’s husband was Mr. Blunt both before and after he married her. The holder of a courtesy title is addressed in conversation or correspondence as Lady Anne (or Lady Cordelia, or Lady Mary, etc). Her closest friends and family would simply call her Anne, but still refer to her as Lady Anne when speaking to the servants or anyone outside the inner circle of family and friends.

    This is a roundabout way of saying there is no person called “Lady Blunt” connected to the founding of the Crabbet Stud.

  31. When Lady Anne Lytton (daughter of the 3rd Earl of Lytton) visited America, people constantly addressed her incorrectly as “Lady Lytton,” and she would explain that “Lady Lytton is my sister-in-law,” who was married to her brother, Lord Lytton (the 4th Earl). The proper way to introduce yourself to Lady Anne Lytton would be to say, “Hello Lady Anne, I’m…”

  32. Lisa: As you say the Asil Community has a lot of thinking to do and better done now calmly than when perhaps a horse is proven to be suspect. Spot on Lisa, this would be a really good time for Al Khamsa and the Asil club to practice delisting a horse or two, because it appears that research has revealed there are a few candidates. If I recall correctly R.J. mentioned in the past that Amurath Sahib has a line to a Thoroughbred or two.. I recall Joe mentioning at a horse show in mason Michigan in 1985, I beleive, that it was thought that amurath Sahib was Asil or at least qualified for Al Khamsa. Further Joe also stated that he was fairly sure that Amurath sahib was Asil due to record research. This was such a refreshing change compared to most Arab breeders, who when asked about desert provenance often replied with an ,’I dunno, I think so, anyway they’re all registered by the registry so it really doesn’t matter.’ The difference was clear enough that I was able to use that difference to pitch my News Director on a feature story about Michigan state Universitys’ arab horse herd not after all being entirely descended from desert horses. This was a new concept at the time and about as welcome among the ,’ show system,’ local arab horse people as a fox in a hen house.
    Anyway it seems to me that the Al khamsa and Asil club folks will gain credibility when they are observed to be removing horses from their lists when scholarship shows them to have lines to non desert horses. Al Khamsa and Asil club folks would then be seen to be walking the walk rather than just talking the talk.
    best wishes
    Bruce Peek

  33. Bruce, I NEVER said that Amurath Sahib had a line to a Thoroughbred, much less two. In fact, I helped with the research for Jeanne Craver’s Babolna roster proposal to Al Khamsa, which included descendants of Amurath Sahib. See discussion of this roster proposal on Edouard’s blog, here:

    Amurath Sahib is not just “qualified for Al Khamsa”; he was formally and officially accepted.

    As for Al Khamsa “delisting a horse or two,” that has never happened.

  34. R.J. Sorry about the Amurath Sahib flub must have him mixed up with another horse. I beg your pardon.
    Best wishes
    Bruce Peek

  35. just a reminder it is not Al Khamsa who removes or adds a horse to the existing foundation list (roster).

    The organization does have a process that takes 2 years to either add or remove a roster horse. But the responsibility for doing so rests not with the organization but with any interested party who wishes to make such a proposal to the organization. It is not an easy process and I have been though it a number of times proposing horses to add to the roster. No horses have yet been removed from the roster and the few attempts in the past did not succeed, perhaps because Al Khamsa can accept parentage questions in its recognized stock, so long as the horses in question still fit the reasonable assumption. So, for example, whether the mare Domow’s sire is Astraled (speculated) or Abu Zeyd (recorded) both sires already fit acceptably into Al Khamsa’s definition. Similarly, MtDNA testing did not change acceptance of Bint Yamama or Schilla, because the DNA defined root already exists within Al Khamsa.

  36. Late for work so have not read the last 5 or so comments but R J Cadrenall you are right that matching mtDNA only proves common ancestry but unless we are suggesting that Rodania had a Polish damiline the data is fairly compelling, have you read paper?(I don’t mean that in any sarccastic way at all if you haven’t and would like to, I can forward it…dear Joe Achcar put me in contact with the author or it will come up if you google ‘Polish arabian mare mtDNA’ etc).
    Also you are right Lady Anne was such as right of birth not marriage if I wrote Lady Blunt as opposed to Lady Anne (and I haven’t time to check was incorrect but I think that you probably know who I meant, I was probably, as ever in a rush….sorry!)

  37. Sorry again regarding sharing a pre domestication shared ancestor… mtDNA can identify that (everyone who is ‘European’ traces to one of three ancestresses, but due to cumulative chnges in the base sequences mtDNA is still a useful tool for pinpointing a much more recent common ancestor) There would be no merit in it’s use to identify the remains of Richard the third or any Polish mare were this not so. It is fairly likely that both I and Richard third trace to Europa(the commonest European ‘damline’) but I am fairly certain that I share no recent common ancestor with him!!
    Ps sorry about all the typos in the last two posts…. really late now!!

  38. I have now read a little more carefully and while Bruce may have confused two horse’s names, the point surely remains, it is the HORSES that are Asil, not the breeders, the point is surely that a register of Asil horses includes only those who are absolutely authenticated in every line.
    As an outsider however it would seem that there is a risk that the Asil groups may on occasion be seen as a CLUB of breeders rather, and that members of such a club wish of course to protect their membership, even if this means being ‘flexible’ in certain respects ?
    It is possible for a horse to have an excellent well authenticated pedigree which is not, however,absolutely pristine, such a horse’s fall from grace should not in my view be regarded as so precipitous that he is then virtually regarded as a partbred, there are some excellent Arabians of true character and type who are not Asil, but they are Arabians of real value and will of course carry precious Arabian blood now sadly lost to Asil breeding. If these horses were seen and valued as such, by the Asil community perhaps it would be easier to be open to all evidence and easier to accept loss of Asil status if/when the evidence necessitates this. None of this is to say that I don’t see the value of a TRULY Asil horse or bloodline, such blood is precious in the extreme, of course, and as well as being preseved should, in my view, be used and ‘bred up to’ by owners of horses such as mine. Neither is it to say that I would accept the disgraceful acts of blatant fraud and pollution that Edouard has highlighted on this blog periodically.
    I appreciate that I am not an expert in this matter but… I do respect your aims and both when speaking to Arabian breeder clients and friends in the sphere of endurance I do plead your cause, at least raisng the subject of purity and the fact that if it is an Arab that they intend to breed a short time looking far back into a potential sire’s pedigree may yeild useful information.
    For example a breeder recently told me that she is moving from Crabbet to Polish and ‘modern’ lines as they ‘look more like Arabs!’ I told her that she may wish to check a few generations back in her pedigrees, also of course, being me, I felt the need to point out that they must not just look like Arabians but ride like Arabians.
    Finally and most irrelevantly after reading J R Cadranell’s comments I did smile today as I drove past the farm neighbouring our clinic, the owner is a Lady by birth but her late husband was a Mr P….., she is widely known as Lady P…… and usually (heaven forfend!!) simply as Lady P. (!!)
    The difference with Lady Anne (Lytton) was that in accepting to be called Lady Lytton she was accepting the name and therefore rank of her sister-in-law, the same does not, I believe, apply to the name Blunt (I do not believe that there was a Lord Blunt) or P….. nevertheless I was wrong not to write Lady Anne’s name properly (assuming that the comment was directed at me, I still haven’t checked!)

  39. Lisa, yes, I have read the Polish mtDNA paper by Glazewska et al., I assume that is the one you refer to? But it does not say that the Slawuta taproot mares “have been shown to trace in female line to the desert,” as you write above. What it says is that a common mtDNA haplotype was found in the Mlecha and Ukrainka families, and that “The presence of identical haplotypes in lines esablished by mares recognized as desert-bred Arabs and in those of unknown origin may be admitted as EVIDENCE of the Arabian origin of the latter.” (emphasis added).

    Regarding Rodania, the authors found her mtDNA haplotype to be identical to Cherifa, which is a line that came to Poland from France, through the mare Bad.

  40. sorry RJ Cadrenell, I have not been on here for a while so did not see your reply, in quoting me you have atarted with the verb of the sentence and replaced the subject with your own words !!!

    However I was not aware that Cherifa was imported from France and that does put the Rodania ‘verifiaction’, which I would consider very strong evidence indeed for a given mare, in a different light, thanks for pointing this out to me.


  41. That should read started not atarted sorry!! 🙂

  42. A question, what did the Bedouin do without DNA testing?

    They just raised their hand to God and said, this is my horse that you gifted I. Perhaps we should all just realize, the Bedouin later gifted the horse as his own, and has shared this gift to I as others. Perhaps some will as the Bedouin prior,
    gift the future horse as did the Bedouin, same. Any thing different simply is not the same gift.


    JMH/Bedouin Arabians

  43. JRCadreell,
    Until just now I had not read the paper for two years but have just reread it. It does as you pointed out state that the Cherifa line arrived via France. It also notes ‘identical haplotypes (within the region compared)were also found in American representatives of the Dahma line’ (ref. paper by Bowling et al Anim.Genet 31 (2000) 1-7).
    The paper staes ‘We noted a genetic identity between some lines founded by Polish mares of ubknown origin and lines established by desert bred mares’.
    This included as you said, Cherifa and Rodania, Szanrajowka and Balkis, the largest Polish line of Gazella 2 and Murana((db) Weil) and Mlecha,Ukranka and Dahma.
    I am of course as certain as anyone else of Rodania but you would all know more than me of Balkis,Dahma and Murana.
    I must say I adon’t breed or own Polish horses and as stated above am well aware that there is no doubt whatever that some lines at least have non Arabian damlines. I have no axe to grind but found this evidence interesting.
    Joe, you are right about the Bedouin but their society and lifestyle would make ‘cheating’very difficult in practical terms.Furthermore there was a code of honour in this respect amongst them that ceratinly I would not accept could be extended universally to C19th and early C20th horse dealers whether from India, the Middle East or North Africa, or to early European studs,or to modern breeders,though in each case there would of course be many individuals of the highest integrity.

  44. Dear Jackson, I am sorry, I have no idea why I called you Joe. My only excuse was that I wrote that post while making a cooked breakfast as we are planning riding for about 9 hours today up on the mountains!

  45. Either way, I think Jackson and I both agree on the idea that the genealogy of Bedouin horses is not easily defined by MtDNA, or other DNA. Regardless of what we know of the strictness of their customs, we have evidence that under some circumstances the have changed the names of their strains completely such as the Shammar story that I related and have on audio tape that their Rabda line was once a Muniqi Sbaili. And there are other circumstances of strain changes attributed to the Bedouin themselves. So the conclusion can be drawn that MtDNA will not be the tool to verify “asilness”. It can only reveal GENETIC relationships between tail-female families. But the Bedouin have always been free to construct, define and modify their family relationships as fits their needs or desires. See William Lancaster’s book: Rwala Bedouin Today.

  46. Know the horses you start with, are they of Bedouin standards?

    We are lucky, Al Khamsa, has each of the groups known as Bedouin Bred and there for any to see. Our job is to continue this task of being ready to ask ourselves, who am I to change what was gifted I?

    There has always been those who would change anything. Yet, there are also those who realize more. Charles and Jeanne gifted their lives to these ideals, as have others, listen and look as to what is. No one can stand on the faults of others, yet every one can stand and hold what was true to one’s own self.

    This conversation began with Edouard saying, change tail female lines and all will know.

    Myself thinking, if one has what was and still is Bedouin Breeding. There is nothing to be gained in change.

    We who breed within the boundaries of Al Khamsa have what the past gifted the Bedouin. And the ability to gift the future same.

    DNA is just another tool, to answer questions. And so it has!

    JMH/Bedouin Arabians

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