Ne montez pas sur vos grands chevaux*

By Edouard Aldahdah

Posted on October 20th, 2008 in General

Looks like some of my last posts (here, and here) have really (like, really) angered a particular category of people: cynical French breeders who make big money out of breeding and selling “pseudo-Arabian” racehorses. They are now fully mobilized and want to launch a campaign to defend their horses by the next WAHO conference. Some even stand ready to destroy the reputation of anyone who dares pointing a accusatory finger at their horses. 

Poor them. They think they are victims of another campaign to kick their horses out of WAHO – now that they have recovered from the Manganate controversy that erupted at the 1974 WAHO conference in Sweden. 

Don’t worry, cynical French breeders of “pseudo-Arabians”. There is nothing to be scared of. Your livelihood will not be threatened, and your financial interests are safe. WAHO will certainly keep you in its fold.  Its circular, hopelessly tautological definition protects your horses: “A pure-bred Arabian horse is one which appears in any pure-bred Arabian Stud Book or Register listed by WAHO as acceptable”.  That’s bullet-proof.

My two posts – and the others to follow 🙂 – are not an attempt to throw French pseudo-Arabians out of WAHO, this low-ceiling benchmark of purity. I do actually believe these horses should stay there. They are in excellent company, with all the other non-Asil “Arabians”.  The only difference is that many of these French horses have a little more – emm, a lot more – non-Arabian blood than the Skowroneks and the Fetysz of this world, the descendents of which form more than 90% of the horses recognized by WAHO as “pure-bred Arabians”. A little more, a little less English Thoroughbred blood does not matter. 

What is really needed is an international registry of Asil Arabians horses that excludes these horses, and others like them, or at the very least acknowledges them for what they are — partbred Arabians. In fact, a simple database will do. There are already people and organizations working on this all over the world. Their efforts only need to be federated. 

By the way, concerned horse breeders should start paying attention to Y-chromosome DNA analysis. For instance, I would be really curious to see whether three of the French “pseudo-Arabian” sire lines from Djerba Oua, through his sons [sic?]: Gosse du Bearn, Ba-Toustem and Mad Oua share the same Y-chromosome, which they should, of course.  

An independent study would be warranted, of course. But I will not be the one calling for it, as I don’t make a living out of this stuff. My day job is already keeping me pretty busy, anyway. okay, off to a meeting now. How I hate Mondays. 

 

* A common French expression that literally means “Don’t ride your big horses” and means “No need to get angry” about something.

32 Responses to “Ne montez pas sur vos grands chevaux*”

  1. In English, I believe that is “Get off your high horse!”

  2. hehe Edouard,
    you are now experimenting the “French” “ne changez rien à mes habitudes!!

    We have the same troubles with our own association and it is hard just to explain sometimes that Asil arabians exist…

    Hope you will join us in our meeting, by the way it is in june!!
    Keep going your wonderful hardwork, photos etc…

  3. Why not ask Deb Bennett to analyze the french arabians DNA??

  4. Thanks Clothilde, June sounds good!

  5. I sent acopy of “ne montez pas sur vos grans chevaux” to French breeders,to WAHo and to Val Bunting and Basil Jedaan both of them members of the WAHO executive comittee,asking all of them to take in consideration your proposition of testing the Y chromosome of some of the French Lines ,this will help to clear once for all all doubts about them.

  6. Clothilde,who is Deb Bennett?

    Joe, good suggestion. Not sure it will clear all doubts, maybe only some..

  7. Edouard,

    Deb Bennett is a well-regarded speaker on equine biomechanics and anatomy. I think you already have better resources for DNA analysis than she could provide.

  8. My understanding of the state of Y-chromosome analysis is that they are not able to differentiate types from it yet, so until that changes, that avenue is not available.

  9. Jeanne, what do you mean by types in this context?

  10. My understanding is that they can’t differentiate families. All of the Y chromosomes are testing alike. Perhaps as time goes by, they will be able to identify branches. It does sound counter-intuitive, doesn’t it?

  11. to jeanne
    please explain the following:
    I have 2 horses with the same grand grand sire lets say Nazeer ,they Y chromosome wont be the same?
    If one of them is not the grand grand son of Nazeer(pedigree error)will it shows in the Y chromosome?

  12. The last I’ve seen, as Jeanne states, there have been no differences detected in the Y chromosomes of different male lines in the horse–the Y chromosome DNA tests alike, even across different breeds.

    One would expect male lines to be as easily differentiated as dam lines, but this is not the case in the horse (unlike other species tested such as dogs and humans). I find this observation to be just fascinating.

  13. Not just fascinating, Michael—it just blows my mind, thinking that all males of all horse breeds so far tested trace to one stallion. I had assumed there would be a similar situation to mtDNA, but with much less variation. But not THIS much less!

  14. sorry Jeanne and Michael :as my tecnical and scientific english is weak.
    please explain the following:
    I have 2 horses with the same grand grand sire lets say Nazeer ,they Y chromosome wont be the same?
    If one of them is not the grand grand son of Nazeer,as stated in its pedigree,will it shows in the Y chromosome

  15. Hi Joe,

    As I am not very technical, maybe my explanation will help, if I am understanding this correctly.

    Both of your stallions would test the same. Even if you had 100 stallions of many different breeds: Arabian, Thoroughbred, Shire, Andalusian, ponies, etc., they would all test the same.

    Jenny

  16. So I can prove that the 2 horses have the same grand grand father: Nazeer.

    If one of them is not the Nazeer grand grand son it will also shows.
    thank you for responding because I do have a problem.

  17. I’m a lot late on this but just want to chime in. I do have a french bred Arabian horse, a CMK Arab, and did have an a another horse that was from the selby blood lines with no SKOWRONEK (Mirage and Masaoud but no Skowronek). My opinion is that there is no such thing as a pure arabian. I’ve known and worked for way too many Arab salesmen to believe that some of those Egyptians and Europeans didn’t buy crosses that looked the part. I’m not a huge Skowronek fan but he is clearly as pure as they can get if you look at his photos. I agree the french bred do look less than perfect type but they don’t look too different than the originals brought out of the desert.

  18. I’ve come late to this discussion as well, but I look forward to comments regarding the above post by jaun.

  19. I believe that there are horses the Arab breeders considered asil, and those are what I personally am interested in. It is the Bedouin breed, and their standards should prevail, in my opinion. So in that case, there certainly are asil Arabian horses. You could set the bar so high (a horse that everyone — east and west – had to agree was asil) that you might never agree on one, but that is outside the real world. In the real world we have asil Arabians. And thank goodness for that!

  20. By international standards established by WAHO, all current studbook Arabians would be purebred. Any livestock definition of a pure breed would also fit the whole Arabian breed. But there are also cultural applications to this breed and they are factored in by people who want to preserve the kinds of Arabians that original Arabian breeders considered representative of their breed. This is not easily defined but if any reasonable assumption is applied to a pedigree that consists of horses assumed to come from these original Arabian breeders, it is a starting point. And from that starting point it is also wise to try to maintain the results as faithfully to the original Arabian breed as is practical. Whatever may be mysteriously behind the scenes as described by skeptics, if an Arab person, Bedouin or otherwise puts his Islamic faith behind the horse he offers, he will believe it to be his breed and asks us to accept it. After that it is important what we do with it in the context of the originating culture.

  21. I do not believe that one can tell that a horse is asil just by looking at it.

  22. Or even that a horse is a “purebred” Arabian…

  23. Jenny, I agree. It is always a subjective thing. There is also such great diversity in the breed even among Bedouin. So it is not how the horse looks but how the culture presents it. I often think that what is at the heart of a preservationist’s difficulty today is that many in the mainstream do not understand the diversity of type within the breed. To me Haleb will always be a celebrated horse in my heart. We know how much the Bedouin valued him. The same for the chestnut stallion Al-Awar that I saw in Aleppo. Yet if they were to enter the show or exhibition ring today, how many in the audience would consider them to be the Arabian that they know from their experience? That is the huge job of education before us.

  24. Jenny, I agree. It is always a subjective thing. There is also such great diversity in the breed, even among Bedouin. So it is not how the horse looks but how the culture presents it. I often think that what is at the heart of a preservationist’s difficulty today is that many in the mainstream do not understand the historical diversity of type within the breed. To me Haleb will always be a celebrated horse in my heart. We know how much the Bedouin valued him. The same for the chestnut stallion Al-Awar that I saw in Aleppo. Yet if they were to enter the show or exhibition ring today, how many in the audience would consider them to be the Arabian that they know from their experience?

  25. Hi Joe,

    Just want to say how passionately I agree with you on the education aspect of preservation breeding. There is such a delicate balance to maintain, I find, so as not to sound superior or “apart.” Or to not seem defensive when people who believe a “pure” Arabian horse must look a certain way make insulting and uneducated remarks about asil arabians who don’t look at all like what’s winning in the show ring. Now, thanks to Edouard and all of you who (for me) represent the motherlode of knowledge, I just send people here to begin to learn.

    Thanks.

  26. To CMK
    Please explain how The Trinity College managed to trace the Darley Y chromosome nearly 300 years after his import to GB.Thank you
    quoting the article:

    “Genetic research has
    revealed that the ancestry of almost all male racehorses in Britain can be traced back to the Darley Arabian, writes Graham Green.

    While it has long been

    accepted that three stallions were the founding fathers of the modern thoroughbred, scientists at Trinity College, Dublin, believe the influence of the Byerley Turk and Godolphin Arabian to have been minimal in comparison with the Darley Arabian.

    They have found, according to a report in yesterday’s Sunday Telegraph, that at least 95 per cent of male thoroughbreds are descendants of the Darley Arabian, who was

    imported into Britain from Syria in 1706.

    Their research, which involved tracing the lineage of a million British horses dating back two centuries, was the largest analysis of pedigrees.

    All three stallions arrived in Britain from the Middle East in the early 18th century and were matched with British and imported mares. They were acknowledged as having played an important role in the development of the thoroughbred, but it now appears the Darley Arabian was by far the biggest contributor.

    Paddy Cunningham, the geneticist who led the research, was quoted as saying: “About 150 years ago the Darley Arabian’s genes raced away from all the others.”

    The Darley Arabian sired Flying Childers, the first great racehorse, and Bartlet’s Childers, the founder of the Eclipse line.
    His Y chromosomes are now found in more than 95 per cent of all male thoroughbreds”
    December 31 /2001
    The racing post.London

  27. Joe, your answer is in the material you summarized: it “was the largest analysis of pedigrees.” This did not involve DNA typing, it was tracing the sire lines of pedigrees. (Note that it’s dated 2001.)

  28. An interesting site to visit is Thoroughbred Bloodlines: http://www.bloodlines.net/TB/ . Historic Sire Lines (under Sire Lines)has information on the ‘oriental’–Arabian, Barb and Turk–founders of the breed whose sire lines were swamped by the big three.
    Some of the family lines trace to ‘oriental’ mares as well. It would be interesting to see how diversity has been maintained (or not) in the female lines.

  29. to Michael Bowling
    Cunnigham is not a pedigree resercher plese read below.
    “he said to the Racing post,England biggest racing news paper,about the Darley,that his Y chromosomes are now found in more than 95 per cent of all male thoroughbreds”

    My question is :is it possible?

    Patrick Cunningham is Professor of Animal Genetics at Trinity College, Dublin. Originally from Waterford, he graduated from UCD in 1956 with first class honours in Agricultural Science. He went on to obtain a Masters Degree in Animal Nutrition from UCD in 1957, and a PhD in Animal Genetics from Cornell University in the USA in 1962.

  30. bonjour je voudrais savoir pourquoi Mad Oua et djerba oua ne sont pas considéré comme pur 🙂
    je vous remercie par avance de votre réponse

  31. Bonjour, il n’y a pas de preuve formelle qu’il ne le sont pas, mais seulement des soupcons et des temoignages de personnes qui ont vecu ou organise ces “saillies de minuit” dont Djerba Oua et Mad Oua sont peut etre le resultat. Il faut se resoudre a croire ceux qui le savent, et sont de bonne volonte. J’en connais, mais je ne veux pas citer de noms..

  32. je vous remercie de ces precisions

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