Photo of the Day: Zairafan, Ubayyan stallion in the USA

By Edouard Aldahdah

Posted on January 20th, 2010 in Arabia, Saudi, USA

I wish to thank Troy Patterson for sharing with me this rare picture of the asil stallion Zairafan (Alwal Bahet x Maarah by Taamrud), from Mrs. J. E. Ott’s breeding. Zairafan is a Ubayyan whose tail female goes back to the mare *Mahraa, bred by Prince Saud ibn Abdallah ibn Jiluwi, governor of the Eastern Province of Saudi Arabia, and imported to the USA in 1950. Zairafan is a true son of the desert.

19 Responses to “Photo of the Day: Zairafan, Ubayyan stallion in the USA”

  1. Three circle confirmation, short gaskins and very good bone. This would be a horse to breed eventers from. he would shorten and strengthen the couplings on T-breds, and set his kids necks up higher in their shoulder-bed. Plus as you can see in his eye, he’s smarter than the average bear.
    All in all very nice, and yes I wish I had him.

  2. Why do you want short gaskins? I’m just wondering!

  3. He has a strange hind legs conformation, hocks are quite high…

    He has a very unsual type, any other picture Edouard?

  4. Dear Jeanne: Actually you want long thighs- or at least thighs that are longer than the gaskins. Because the thigh is located in the horses body, as a lever it has gobs more strength than do the gaskins. This is incredibly important in any horses asked to carry a rider in self carriage. Self Carriage being defined as the horse equally deviding the work of carrying his and his riders weight among all four legs- thus avoiding carrying more weight on his forehand and hence staying sounder longer A long thigh with short gaskins like the Davenport import Abeyah had gives hocks ,’that are well let down.’ Well let down hocks predisposes the horse to speed and strength and soundness. Probably the reason why Abeyah was the fastest horse of the entire Davenport importation.
    Also longer thighs than gaskins make it easier for the horse to track up, or step forward with his hindleg under the center of gravity. This is important in most any athletic activity from the horsing sitting down to take off over a jump, to doing piaffe in an ,’upper level,’ dressage test, to a bullfighter horse spinning out of the way of a charging bull. They gotta get their butt underneath themselves, and the stronger their hindend is the easier it is for them to do.
    best wishes
    Bruce Peek

  5. Sorry friends!
    I see every asil horse is good! Can that be true .
    I read in some books that the Arabian breeder,not use every Asil mare or stallion for breeding .
    We cant bred all Asil horses because there are Asil .
    What do you think ?

  6. I fully agree, Predrag. Recall Lady Wentworth comment, for instance: “However pure, a degenerate individual cannot be used for breeding”. Breeding from mediocre or degenerate individuals is what has caused the breed to regress in its homeland between 1940 and 1980..

  7. Hello, Bruce,

    I think there is a semantic problem on the definition of gaskin, then. The definition of gaskin is the muscular part of the hind leg of a horse between the hock and the stifle. Is that how you use the term? If so, then I ask again why you would want short gaskins? I am truly curious!

  8. Also because longer gaskins than thighs tends to move the hind limb out behind making it more difficult for the horse to track up, or as Gueirriniere said engage the hindquarter, or as Natural Horsemanship people say disengage the hindquarter. Both schools of thought use seemingly semantic opposites to describe the same thing- the horse stepping under his navel.
    Clothilde, run a straight edge from his knees back through the hindlimb, where the straight edge will bissect the bottom of the hock. Run a straight edge from the lumbo-sacral to the base of the neck- this is essentially an even line. The line from the knee to the hock is a degree or two downhill toward the front
    which is the conformation you want for a middle distance to a long distance horse.
    Best wishes
    Bruce Peek

  9. I’m sorry, Bruce; I must be dense, because I am not following your argument for a short gaskin. Again, we may be into semantics, but looking at a lot of photos of performance horses in all disciplines, I am just not getting it. I am NOT trying to use the photo of this horse for critique, as I am sure he is a lovely animal.

  10. Hi Jeanne,
    I am pretty sure that Deb Bennett mentions a shorter gaskin bone, but I’m also pretty sure she always mentions it in relation to the femur, with the longer femur to gaskin ratio being preferred.
    Would have to look it up to be certain, also to see exactly where her measurement points are. Hope this helps…

  11. I’m probably not being as clear as I should be..A good way to go about this is to find the point of the thigh, which in this picture of Zairafan is nicely highlighted. Drop a line down to the end of the stifle. Drop another line from the point of the stifle to the midpoint of the hock. Compare the length of the lines. If the thigh is longer, or the gaskin is within 5% of the thigh length you can expect better movement. Its easiest to visualize this by considering the extremes- for example a poorly conformed showhorse with too long gaskins
    and short thighs unable to track up behind. As opposed to any of several stallions you and Charles bred, Major General, or Mandarin, for example.
    And no you are not dense. As a result of Deb Bennetts teaching, referred to by Jenny i’ve gotten to the point that i visually ,’ add up,’ points of conformation to the point that its second nature. I forget that what stands out to me isn’t always clear. Nor am I trying to critique Zairafan, but rather to praise him.
    Best wishes
    Bruce Peek

  12. This horse appears to be quite sickle hocked to me. Also he seems quite long in the back. I personally prefer a horse with a shorter back. He does appear to have very good bone and does indeed look smart and capable.

    Susan Mayo

  13. While the critiques offered here are instructive regarding the individual, Zairafan is a son of Maarah, who to me was one of the finest Blue Star mares I have seen. This would likely account for Zairafan’s reliability as a sire as I believe most Bedouin place the greatest value on the quality of the dam of a potential sire. However, Zairafan’s sire Alwal Bahet was also of high quality and a very athletic and good moving type so indeed Zairafan is backed up by good ancestors.

    I remember many years ago Ruby Perdue told me that it takes time to be able to “see the blood” of a horse, meaning: becoming aware of all that one can about the quality of the ancestors.

  14. We saw Maarah at age 2, and at that age she was our favorite of the horses we saw at the Otts. Really a lovely filly.

  15. Joe,
    Do you have any pictures of Maarah? Her dam, Fanaira, looked like a very elegant mare.

  16. I did not take any pictures of Maarah when we first saw her, only a small amount of movie footage instead. She was about 5 years old and very memorable for her good quality and overall all balance. She was a very striking shade of dark bay, almost seal but with reddish brown cast and even a hint of “dappling” in her lustrous coat which seemed very shiny and lovely eyes and expression with very confident, calm demeanor. Her mother Fanaira was still alive as well and was undoubtedly a queen in her own right, with very flowing lines and long predator like walk. There were many excellent mares with the Ott family in the 1970s. However I do not know if anyone else has good photos of Maarah. It must be remembered that some of these desert bred horses were not easy to get a good casual photo, but movies were our preference because movies captured their incredible quality of movement, body language and over all “drinker of the wind” nobility that is difficult to capture in a photo.

  17. I agree with Joe on his impressions of Maarah and Fanaira. We saw them about three years earlier, so it is good to hear that Maarah maintained that balance. If Maarah was our #1, Fanaira was pretty close to our #2! Unfortunately, no photos. We did take notes, but I am not sure I can put my hands on them all these years later!

  18. Thank you! I hope y’all are preserving the old movies. What a treasure…

  19. Dear Susan: Actually he’s pretty darn close to being a three circle body type, meaning his hip is as long as the free span of his back. Run a line from the point of his hip to the point of his butt. Twice the length of that measurement comes almost exactly to the very front of his chest. Meaning that he’s not long backed at all. About 30% of hot blooded horses actually have backs that are shorter than their hips and can therefore be called short backed. Zairafan does have a couple of flaws- namely he’s somewhat low in the back, and cresty in the neck. Taken together these two so called flaws are really indicative of his need to be ridden in a theraputic manner. After the fat comes off his neck and his soft belly gets toned up he would look much better. And no he’s not sickle hocked anymore than he needs to be. Short coupled horses which are therefore strong coupled horses need to have the back of their hocks angled in, and hind hooves angled out. This is so their hind legs can swing clear of their belly when they engage and track up. Horses whose z shaped hind legs don’t clear their stomach are difficult to collect, and can be predisposed to hock problems
    best wishes
    Bruce Peek

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