By Edouard Aldahdah
Posted on November 20th, 2010 in General
The first lesson I took from from the success of “Davenport” breeding in the USA is connectedness, and I talked about it in an earlier entry. Another lesson is that it’s a nice story that was also nicely told.
The history of every single Arabian horse breeding group is equally fascinating: Egyptian Arabians and the splendor of the kings and pashas, Crabbet Arabians and the travels of Lady Anne Blunt against the backdrop of a British Empire at its zenith, etc. The history of the Davenports as a breeding group ranks among the most inspiring of these for several reasons: first and foremost, because of its extraordinary simplicity: one man, Homer Davenport, falls in love with desert-bred Arabian horses at the 1893 Chicago World Fair; he decides to own some of his own, so he jumps on a ship on the first occasion (in 1906), spends a few weeks in Northern Arabia and comes back to the USA with 27 of these coveted horses, but dies shortly after. Yet a hundred years later, the horses are still there, thanks to the foresight and fortitude of a small number of courageous individuals. It is a quintessentially American story of self-made men and trail-blazers, of big vision and minute execution, of relentless resolve and flexibility.
The second reason why Davenport Arabians have the power to fascinate people is because of the sheer amount of information available about/around them; we have Davenport’s letters, his book “My Quest of the Arabian Horse”, which describes his journey in colorful detail; most importantly (to me, at least), we have the original Arabic certificates of origin of these horses, the hujaj, signed and sealed by the Bedouin breeders and owners of these horses; one cannot emphasize it enough, but the Davenport Arabians are — along with the much smaller groups of the Ayerza Arabians of Argentina and the Roach Arabians in the USA — the only group of horses imported from Arabia Deserta with existing hujaj. In addition to this primary literature, there is a rich and growing body of secondary literature on the Davenports, first and foremost by Charles Craver himself, but also by other powerhouse researchers such as the late Carol Lyons, R.J. Cadranell, Michael Bowling, and others.
The third reason has to do with Craver Farms, which is an epic within the epic, and the personalities of Charles and Jeanne Craver. No one in the USA has bred so many Arabians (more than 600 hundred) from stock that was so close to the desert, and for so many generations. The Craver foundation stallion, Tripoli, born in 1948, was the grandson of
one (two, *Deyr and *Hamrah, thanks R.J.) of the stallions of the 1906 Davenport importation. My little filly Wadha, born in 2010, is seven generations removed from Tripoli, with all seven generations having been bred at Craver Farms or from Craver stock.
The story of the Davenport Arabians is a nice one to tell; it has all the ingredients of a good novel: a unique cast of characters, a simple script, and a lot of background information. And there is always another sequel.