On the Bisharat horses and the Transjordan Frontier Force

By Edouard Aldahdah

Posted on January 5th, 2010 in Egypt

Beshier El Ashkar and Badria, the two Arabian horses known in modern Egyptian pedigrees as the Bisharat horses, are some of the least documented Arabians to have joined the Al Khamsa Roster of Arabian horses (in 1995, I think).  There was another mare, Ward, from the same source, but she did not leave any modern descendents.

Most of what we know about Beshier and Badria is from the Inshass Original Herd Book (IOHB, entries #80 and #83, Inshass being the stud of King Faruk of Egypt), and some of that information later found its way in Volume 3 of the Egyptian Agricultural Organization Studbook. This includes information on the horses’ color, sex, date of birth and the date the horses were presented to King Faruk. The Al Khamsa Roster, which aggregates all the information available on the two horses, has this succint but telling note: “Neither offer strain or family history”.

Since Beshier and Badria’s blood runs in the veins of some of the most popular (and expensive) Arabian horses in the world (e.g., Jamilll, Ibn Galal-I, Salaa El Dine, etc), many breeders, especially in Germany, tried to learn more about them.

Dr. Hans J. Nagel in particular, has a 1982 letter or letters from Midhat Bisharat, Shibly’s son, where he gives the strains of the sires and dams of both Beshier and Badria — Beshier by a Saqlawi out a Kuhaylat al-‘Ajuz, and Badria by a ‘Ubayyan out of a Hamdaniyah. Midhat Bisharat adds another piece of information: that the horses had been purchased by his father from the Trans-Jordanian Frontier Force when it disbanded in 1946 [sic] following World War II. Mr. Walter Georg Olms, also of Germany, also has some correspondence with one of the EAO veterinarians about the whereabouts of both horses after they were imported to Egypt. Finally, Judith Forbis has one page about the Bisharat horses in her Authentic Arabian Bloodstock book.

Let me first make two statements, and be very clear about each statement. One: I have all the respect in the world for Dr. Nagel’s achievements as a breeder of Arabian horses of the showring type. Two: There is no intrinsic reason whatsoever to suspect the credibility and integrity of  Midhat Bisharat or of the information he provided to Dr. Nagel.

That said, an important point needs to be made: There is no way to verify the strain information which Midhat Bisharat gave to Dr. Nagel. That’s because the name of the breeder(s) of Beshier and Badria is not mentioned, and neither is the Bedouin tribe that bred them or the place they were bred. Nor is there a hujjah for either of the three Bisharat horses. Midhat Bisharat was after all, the son of the purchaser of these horses. His father Shibly only bought the horses; he was not their breeder.

As far as I am concerned, and that’s only my own personal opinion, just naming the strain of the sire and that of the dam of these horses is not enough, in this particular context. One needs to know who breed them to be able to determine whether that breeder is reputable, and consequently, whether the horses bloodlines can be fully trusted. In my own personal opinion, the status of Beshier and Badria within the community of asil horses remains an open question, regardless of acceptance by the Pyramid Society, the Asil Club, or Al Khamsa for that matter.

How to reach closure on this? The best way to do it is go back to the family of Midhat Bisharat and ask more questions about the breeders of these horses. The other, more convoluted way, is to try to learn more about this Trans-Jordanian Frontier Force which is where these horses came from, including where it was stationed at the time of it disbanding and from where it used to acquire its horses.

Here is a good place to start an inquiry into the Trans-Jordanian Frontier Force. Give it a careful read if you have time, and lets discuss it in a few days.

Note that the TJFF was disbanded on February 9th, 1948, and not in 1946, as reported above. Also note that the Cavalry Regiment of the TJFF was in Northern Palestine (i.e, Galilee) when World War II ended in 1945 (info towards the end of the article). Note also that the TJFF is very different from the Arab Legion, or from the Desert Patrol, both of which included many Bedouin recruits from all over Arabia Deserta. The composition of the TJFF is detailed in the article linked to above.

5 Responses to “On the Bisharat horses and the Transjordan Frontier Force

  1. Veddy veddy interesting. Are you suggesting that the “Because I say so,” or the alternative, “I know someone, who knows someone, who said it was true,” isn’t unimpeachable evidence. Being what was described as a California Cynic or perhaps a cynic from California, I’ve often felt that if one has a horse with a questionable ancestor in it’s pedigree, the ancestor becomes less questionable, when one is the owner of it’s descendant(s).

  2. Just curious here Edourard, what other Al Khamsa foundation horses do you feel are at the same minimal level of provenance that you site for Besheir El Ashkar and Badria?

  3. Oh, there are quite a few that I really wish I knew more about: Dwarka, Nedjran, Kismet, Maidan, Mameluke, Halabia (RAS), Aid (RAS), Koheilan El Mossen (KDV), Muniet El Nefous (KDV), El Samraa (INS), El Shahbaa (INS), many of Soldateska’s ancestors, and other I can’t recall now..

  4. what about DNA technology, does or could it say anything on matters such as these?

  5. In general, all the foundation horses for which no original (ie Bedouin) owner is recorded are at the same level of information than Beshier and Badria.

    Contrast *Urfa or *Turfa or El Kahila with Dwarka, Nedjran, Beshier or Badria..

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