By Edouard Aldahdah
A previous entry had discussed how the young children of Shammar Shaykh (and prominent Syrian politician) Mayzar Abd al-Muhsin al-Jarba lost the ownership of their father’s prestigious marbat of Kuhaylan Krush al-Baida strain upon the latter’s death (late 1960s? early 1970s?), and how the man Mayzar had entrusted with his assets took the horses for himself.
That man was a Bedouin from the Faddaghah section of the Shammar tribe, by the name of ‘Iyadah al-Talab al-Khalaf, and was also known as al-Qartah. Al-Qartah bred Mayzar’s horses until the mid-1980s, continuing the practice of close inbreeding that Mayzar (and perhaps Mayzar’s father and grandfather before him) had been practising before.
The grey Mumtazah was Iyadah al-Qartah’s main broodmare. Both her parents were bred by Mayzar Abd al-Muhsin al-Jarbah, and all four grandparents were from the same Kuhaylan Krush al-Baida strain. It’s not clear whether Mumtazah was bred by ‘Iyadah al-Qartah, or whether she was taken by him from Mayzar’s estate as a foal. An impressive mare with a crested neck not unlike the Godolphin Arabian (see my picture of her in old age, below), Mumtazah produced the bay mare Doumah, also by a Kuhaylan al-Krush (maybe a full brother), and the grey stallion Awaad (b. 1980), by a Saglawi Shaifi of the horses of Diab al-Sbeih of Shammar (a marbat that traces to the marbat of Dayes Ibn Bisra, also of Shammar).
By the mid 1980s, the Syrian Ministry of Agriculture was already starting to register the horses of the Bedouin in a studbook that was to be accepted by WAHO a few years later. A joint team of Ministry employees and horse breeders from the large cities of Damascus and Aleppo tirelessly roamed the Syrian desert for several months in search of the horses of the Bedouin. Their story of their unique endeavor will be told elsewhere. For now, all I’ll say is that many of these breeders ended up with some of the choicest desert-bred lines, because they had first dips at Bedouin-bred horses that no one knew or cared about yet.
Basil Jadaan was one of the most knowledgeable and enthusiastic breeders. He bought the black colt Mokhtar from Iyadah al-Qartah. Below is a rare, original picture of Mokhtar as a young colt in the desert, in 1987, and another rare picture of him as a growthy two years old at Basil’s in Damascus.
Mokhtar, born in 1987, was the product of the mating of Awaad to Doumah, a brother-to-sister cross. If my memory serves me well, Basil may have even manage to obtain or lease Doumah and Awaad, but both died shortly after reaching Damascus. (A number of other other breeders wanted to obtain Doumah too, but they were less lucky. Radwan Shabareq of Aleppo has this fantastic story about carrying 80 year old horse merchant Abd al-Qadir Hammami on his back across a mudded track for more than two miles before they reached al-Qartah’s encampment in the middle of the night, only to be turned down by a defiant al-Qartah who refused to sell them Doumah. They couldn’t spend the night at al-Qartah because old Hammami had gotten into an argument with al-Qartah about the aborted sale. Radwan eventually obtained another Krush mare from the Shammar, but she was not a Krush al-Baida).
The black Mokhtar was Basil’s pride, and was used on his mares in alternance with the chestnut Hamdani Simri Mubarak. Mokhtar was by no means a faultness stallion. His neck was thicker than most people would have liked, and he stood a little high on the back. His ears were a tad too far from each other (something my father attributed to inbreeding), and his eyes, while large and expressive, were placed a bit too high. The eye sockets were deep and dry though, and so were the jaws. His delicate nostrils looked as if they were endlessly extensible. The jaws were deep and flat. His mane and skin were like silk, and I have rarely seen a horse carry his tail the way Mokhtar does.
Mokhtar produced good foals for Basil, and none of them had his defects. My favorites were the black stallions Haddar, a Saqlawi Shaifi; the grey Marwan, a Saqlawi Ibn Amoud; the bay Shuwaymeh filly Hamas which died as a youngster, and a gorgeous bay Shuwaymah Sabbah mare that I saw at Salih al-Srouji’s in Damascus. Mokhtar also produced the black Shuwaymah mare al-Qahirah, Basil’s personal favorite.
Later, Basil Jadaan gifted Mokhtar to Jane Menning, a nice British lady who took the horse to Europe. After Mrs. Menning passed away, Mrs. Chantal Chekroun of the Al Shatane stud in St Pierre-les-Etieux in central France obtained the mature black stallion. He still is with Mrs. Chekroun now. When I was living in France between 2004 and 2006, I corresponded with Mrs. Chekroun and she once sent him a brochure and some photos of Mokhtar in the mail, which I should retrieve and scan for you. Meanwhile, you can see another photo and his (partial) pedigree here. I will post a full annontated pedigree sometime soon, the result of several months of inquiries about the horse’s antecedents.
Several French preservationist breeders took the opportunity of Mokhtar’s importation to France to use them on their mares. Among them are Jean-Claude Rajot, who has a Mokhtar son, Shuwayman Badawi and a daughter, and Louis Bauduin. Mr. and Mrs. Balthazar, who took over Jean Deleau’s preservationnist breeding facility of La Lizonne, are currently using a son of Mokhtar, out of a Saqlawiyah mare from Syria. We’ll get there..
Meanwhile, preservationnist breeders of asil horses around Europe ought to take advantage of the presence of Mokhtar there to refresh their bloodlines with authentic desert blood, before he is too old to breed. Unquestionable purity of blood is a rare thing to come by nowadays, and when it comes to asil, mazbut, shubuw and the whole array of concepts used to describe a horse Bedouins would breed from, Mokhtar is definitely IT.
It took me six full entries on Krush al-Baida to make the case for him, and I could use six more to exhaust all I have to say about this true son of the desert, one of the last born under the tent.