On the Khamessan / Khumayssan strain of southern Saudi Arabia

By Edouard Aldahdah

Posted on December 27th, 2012 in Saudi

Here’s of one of the joys of maintaining a website like Daughters of the Wind: a few weeks Husayn al-Mansur al-Yami of Najran in Saudi Arabia sent me the following message, which I reproduce here in full:

 Hello Edouard,

Under the” Video of the Day” section of your blog, I read something about Najran horses and especially, Khumayssan or Khameesan as we pronounce it. I would like to add what I know about the strain and wish to know more about it and the people who still preserve it.

 Al-Khameesah horses are bred and preserved for one and only one purpose, the war. In addition to their beauty, they are fast, strong, brave, smart, loyal, and alert. They can carry heavy weights, and run for long distances. They can stand harsh weather and geographic conditions. Their solid hooves and bones, and massive muscles enables them to perform well in the mountains and the desert. So, I guess having Al-Khameesah horse in the old days is like having a modern war vehicle today.

 Even though it is well known in our area and in the neighboring areas of the country of Yemen, it is not listed among the Arabian horse strains. I am not sure why it is not listed, it might be because Arabian horses were imported mainly from Nejd and the northern regions of Arabia where the strain doesn’t exist. Or it could be due to the limited number of Al-Khameesah horses, and therefore it wasn’t classified as a strain by itself.

 I searched the internet and I came across a thread written in Arabic language and it’s the only source I found that lists Al-Khameesah among the Arabian horse strains. After contacting the writer of the thread, he told me that Al-Khameesah was mentioned in a book by Roger Upton. He listed them under the Dahman strain, the writer couldn’t remember the name of that book.

 I am sharing a picture of our mare Khameesah and her daughter (both deceased). Khameesah was about 6-7 years old and her daughter was 15. Only skilled riders like my brother (in the photo) can rider either mares. Sorry for the bad quality of the picture.

 The main source of Al-Khameesah was (Al-Jalal) family from Abidah, a clan that belongs to Qahtan tribe. They are located in Wadi Abidah and Al-Jouf of Yemen. They are specialized in breeding this special strain of Arabian horse and they know a lot about it. In their breeding philosophy, beauty of the horse is not enough, they have their own way to test their horses ‘ stamina, courage, and intelligence and only horses who pass the test are preserved. Our family had a sort of alliance with Al Jalal so they provided us with some fine horses.\

 Our mare Khameesah had lived about 26 years but only two of her offspring had lived. The colt (Ashgar) who eventually became the sire of her filly (Sumood, the chestnut mare) who had lived with us for 17 years and had only one son Matrook (his name was changed to Wahhajj by his new owner). Wahhajj is the only living Al-Khameesan that I know.

 A strange part of the story is that the man who advised my father to buy Khameesah, when she was a filly, was a blind man!! He realized that she was a good filly even thou he had never seen her. I wish I was born at that time to ask him how did he know that she’s a good filly? I would imagine that he had done his measurements by hand or had used some nomadic secret techniques that nobody else knows.

 Is the strain extinct or not? This will need to be researched, however, there are no any Al-khameesah horses in Najran that I’m aware of exept Wahhajj. Possibly, Yemeni Shykhs still have some of them. The Shaykh of Bakil, Naji al-Shayif still has at least a stallion and a mare as mentioned in this video that you have once posted in your blog. http://youtube.com/watch?v=Ffjhp5_rB7g


10 Responses to “On the Khamessan / Khumayssan strain of southern Saudi Arabia”

  1. Those do look like mares to ride to war on!

  2. Depth in the hindquarter such as we never see here in the west, wonderful withers, and great bone. Definitely war horses.
    best wishes
    Bruce Peek

  3. beaucoup de points de force pour porter lourd,vite et loin.

  4. Wonderful! What a treasure… any chance of keeping this going?

  5. Wonderful to read and I hope this strain survives.

    ‘…in their breeding philosophy, beauty of the horse is not enough,they have their own way to test their horses stamina ,courage and intelligence and only horses who pass the test are preserved….’

    AMEN to that.

    In my opinion this breeding policy should be applied universally, it is this philosophy which gave us the peerless Arabian horse and if we are to maintain the true glory of the breed we must adhere to the same principles, in full measure, forever.

  6. Hello Edouard
    As Husayn states that the only living representative of the strain is a colt, does this mean that the strain will be extinct (no female line to carry it on) or is there possibility of others?

    A check of Roger D Upton’s “Gleanings”, this strain doesn’t feature. Will have a look through “Newmarket to Arabia”. Though there is from Lady Blunt(?) within Wentworth’s “The Authentic Arabian Horse” – Dahman Shahwan, Khumayr. Raswan in “The Black Tents of Arabia” lists Dahman Khumayis and Kunayhir. Just wondering due to spelling differences (foreigners’ interpretation of the spoken word?).

  7. can’t see a reference to the Khamessan / Khumayssan in “Newmarket to Arabia”. Tweedie mentions the Khumaiyis strain under Dahman as well as a Kham-si under Kuhailan.

  8. Yes, Diane, unless there are some left in Yemen, which is nearby.

    There is no such strain as Dahman Khumays, it is just a misspelling of Dahman (Amer) ibn Hemsi, with the foreigners confusing the Arabic letters Kh and H.

  9. Hello everyone.
    Looking at your comments and the correspondences as well as the physiques of the horses (in the pics above),gives me some hope that I may find out the strain of the bloodline of my grey mare that could have been one of the decendants of one of the Yemeny bloodlines, possibly from the khumaysan!?!
    The previous owner that had her, failed to manage her, she is now fairly well managed and showing great noble blood/character.
    How can I really find out more? As that was my pursuit.
    Any help would be much appreciated.

    Best wishes

  10. The Dahman type as seen in the photographs there is not extinct, just difficult to find in the Western Hemisphere. My aim as a small breeder is to bring back horses of this type/strain. The Dahman is a substrain, mostly of Kuhalian and Saqlawi lines with a touch of the Abbeyan (many Dahman horses show the slightly longer back, powerful hindquarters and extreme Jibbah). It takes a lot of digging to find horses carrying the type, but the two main horses I use as a focus are the tail stallion “Dahman El Azrak” and the tail mare “El Dahma”.

    I have been fortunate in the horses I have found that show almost pure in type characteristics of this very old strain. They ARE bred in the Middle East, but rarely sold.

    I lost my pure in Dahman type mare just before Summer (2016) but kept her daughter by my foundation stallion. She has bred pure to type and at 7 months of age first showed her speed when she houdini’d out of a pasture. I used a well brought up Kiger Mustang stallion of good size (he was 15.2hands) to bring her back in for me. It took him over half an hour to wear her down and that little filly outran him all the way until she was too tired to run anymore.

    This is my boy…

    I can say that horses of this type are still around but rare in the USA. When found, I personally believe that they are worth more than their weight in solid gold.

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