By Edouard Aldahdah
Think of this new “Lost asil tail females” series as an obituary section in a newspaper.. I know there is no point in grieving over what is lost, but it’s a good reminder of how lucky we are to have what we still have.
The series starts with *Nedjme, just because “she was given the position of the first registration in the stud book of the Arabian Horse Club of America, […] an indication of the regard in which she was held by Arabian horse breeders in this country of her day” (Craver and Craver, Horses of the White City). *Nedjme was one of the horses the Ottoman Hamidie Society exhibited at the 1893 Chicago World Fair. She is registered as a Kuhaylat al-‘Ajuz by a Saqlawi Jadran. However, evidence from a letter J.R. Dolbony (who was involved with the Hamidie Society, perhaps as an performer in the Ottoman exhibition) to Homer Davenport, mentions that her dam was of the Sa’dat al-Tuqan strain, from the Wuld Ali Bedouins and her sire of the Nkhayshi strain, from the Hssinah tribe, which is certainly more interesting.
Whatever the case, *Nedjme was the pick of the Hamidie Society horses, and fetched the highest price when the horses were sold: 1,200 USD. Her buyer, J.A.P. Ramsdell, described her as follows:
“Nedjme (sic) is 14.02 hands high… She is almost white, with the thinnest blue-black skin; her head is a typical Arab’s, not too small, deep through the jowl, large in the brain space, with the forehead (called by the Arabs the jibbah) well developed: her eyes are very large and set in Arab fashion, rather lower in her face than in that of our horses; around them the hair is thin and shows very perceptibly the black skin… The skin of the eyelids, lips and nostrils is extraordinarily fine and the opening of the latter small when she is quiet, but expands splendidly when she moves. The “mitbah,” where the head joins the neck, is very gracefully cut, and she has plenty of room for the wind-pipe… Her ears are long and thin, with a quick but not nervous movement and when forward point inward. Her neck is long and well set on, shoulders running very far back; she is well ribbed up and has to perfection the far famed carriage of the tail, it having the effect of being “thrown on,” so perfect is the arch, and carried at such height. Her hocks are strong and large. The legs are perfect, the feet blue and rather cup-shaped.”
Nedjme eventually passed to Homer Davenport, and founded a large and successful family in the USA, to which several famous “Old American” horses belong to. Her granddaughter Dahura (*El Bulad x Nanshan) was especially prolific, producing among others the mares Amham (the dam of the asil stallion Feyd), Mershid (dam of asil the stallion Kulun) and Morfda (the dam of the beautiful asil stallion Stambul), and the stallions Joon, Ah Ben and Ameer Ali. Dahura’s daughters were also prolific broodmares.
Somehow, by the 1980s, only one asil tail female descendent of *Nedjme was left in existence, the mare Tarnagid (Nagid x Tarmika by Tarff), born in 1975. (Incidentally, Tarff was also associated with another tail female that was nearly lost, since his daughter Tarrla was the last remaining descendent of the *Nufoud tail female. Fortunately, that line still exists thanks to the efforts of the late Carol Lyons.)
From a preservation perspective, Tarnagid was also interesting because she carried one of the few remaining lines to the stallion *Mirage in asil breeding, through his Kuhaylan Da’jani son Adonis (x Curfa). Adonis was the sire of Tarnagid’s maternal granddam.
The late Billy Sheets and D. Susan Whitman deserve credit for desperately trying to rescue Tarnagid as an older mare. I don’t recall the exact circumstances of their attempt, but I remember that Billy told me how they drove hundreds of miles to her owner’s place, and managed to take her to be bred to an asil stallion, and that this ultimately failed, and that mare died without any asil replacement. Maybe I need to ask Susan Whitman to elaborate…
With the loss of Tarnagid, the *Nedjme line died out in tail female. It survives in the middle of a number of asil pedigrees, in particular through the stallion Feyd (Farana x Amham), whose daughters Milanne (a Ma’naqiyah Sbayliyah) and Suebe (a Kuhaylat al-Rodan) among others, still have modern descendents in asil pedigrees – even though both lines are threatened. It also survives through the stallions Kaniht and Kahar (both by Katar x Niht). Kahar’s daughters Kadorza, Sagitta and Zarieha have lines (barely) surviving today.
Billy knew how to tell the “lost asil” stories much better than I ever could. I really miss this guy.