The Arabian horse of tomorrow

By Edouard Aldahdah

Posted on September 21st, 2010 in General

Notice the large, round, watery eyes, the dished profile, the prominent jibbah, the delicately shaped, flexible nostrils, the deep jowls, and the perfectly set, arched neck. I firmly believe that sea horses should be  allowed to compete in future Arabian horse halter shows.

19 Responses to “The Arabian horse of tomorrow”

  1. The head is too long and narrow Edouard. It should be shorter and wider, broader between the eyes. Then, it would be perfect.


    Welcome back and I hope you enjoyed the Breeder’s Conference. I only wish that I could have attended.


  2. Poking fun is dangerous, the sea horse curl their tails!
    Besides they have no legs to stand on.

    For me personaly I perfer to keep my head above the water!

    Edouard your point is? Yes, there are many differing types? I see them every day in my fields and I honor their past. Just as I must give respect to others and their sea horses.

    Seriously, if Al Khamsa has horses that are not eligible
    then they should be questioned!and removed! This is why Bedouin Sourse is what all groups should hallmark! No exceptions!

    This was the only reason for Al Khamsa then and now!
    Forget opinions, stay with facts. I offered this years ago, and say it again now. These horses have a great
    history and I enjoy that history. Keep orginal the
    same as they can not be brought back to orginal if
    changed. Yes, I know all to well facts can change with
    time and new information. Hopefully errors of the past
    remain open for correction via facts. (Not opinions of various motives and ego.)

    Sure my desert horse are worth MILLIONS, just no one realizes this except Me and perhaps you? And I am still
    waiting for you to come and buy mine. But then I gave many of mine away to some very wonderful people.

    Jackson – Bedouin Arabians

  3. Really, Jackson. No legs? The only problem I see with that would be leading them into the ring, from my understanding most halter judges don’t look at legs anyway. I was once told that by a prominent and very successful halter breeder! Maybe seahorses would do very well in the classes.

  4. exactly, cathie. infact one prominent breeder told me that arabs aren’t even for riding, but for looking at. not sure what planet she came from. so who needs legs?

  5. Hi Ralph, too bad you weren’t there. I was looking forward to seeing you..

  6. “so who needs legs?”

    The Hippocamp being an hermaphrodit animal ,who will also need stallions anymore?

  7. Every time I open your blog and see that photo I close the blog! This means that your point is very well made, but looking at those fake, plastic looking sea horses really bothers me.
    Please post something new. 🙂

  8. So true regarding judges’ ignorance/disregard for legs. A few days ago a top international breeder/judge/producer was describing to me a horse he had seen in Aachen. I asked what his legs were like…. he commented that legs ‘people don’t really look at legs these days’. Heartsinking. The Arab horse is the finest horse that the world has ever seen and indeed is ever likely to. The breed was forged in the harshest environment imaginable over millenia, resulting in a loyal loving intelligent horse of incredible endurance agility and toughness, it is almost unfortunate that it is also extremely beautiful, for this beauty has made it vulnerable to inappropriate selection pressures. The Bedouin way of life and environment ensured the perpetuity of ALL of the Arabian horse’s remarkable qualities… if a horse was not tough, sound, athletic and loyal she would not live long as a war mare, if foul tempered she would not be welcome in a camp crawling with children. On the other hand the showring demands only beauty and a ‘BIG’ trot, other qualities are irrelevant… this situation imperils the breed. For example as a rider one of the (many) Arabian virtues that I
    appreciate is the incredible smooth canter, it is quintessentially Arab,(I rode 1000km across Turkey on my Arab gelding without stirrups, having lost a stirrup soon after entering the country and barely missed them)yet the quality of canter is not even judged in the showring where trotting (not a pace used much by Bedouin in my experience) is the be all and end all.
    PS I love this site and am passionately interested the Arab horse and his history, my own Arabs are the light of my life.
    I always feel like an intruder here though as my horses are ‘purebred’ ‘WAHO’ (Mostly Crabbet/ Courthouse/Davenport), so only ‘partbreds’ by your (probably correct)criteria. While it is absolutely vital to maintain a wellspring of truly pure blood, and I applaud this, is there any merit in discarding all ‘purebred’ non ‘Asil'( I am aware that that is a contradiction in terms bear with me!) horses.. in doing so how many wonderful and truly Asil Arab ancestors would be lost for ever??
    I think it would be worth trying to make ordinary breeders more aware of the purity issue, to promote Asil stallions and to try to slowly eliminate dubious blood from the ‘purebred’ pool, while zealously maintaining the Asil group pristine. My horses and so many thousands of others may not be ‘asil’ by certain definitions but they proclaim their Arab heritage in their beauty, kindness, their bottomless stamina, light floating action,sensitivity, courage and loyalty. They are Arabs, worthy of the name. Though I repeat that I do understand and sympathise with your aims and acheivements.

  9. You “rode 1000km across Turkey on an Arab gelding without stirrups”?? You then must be some reincarnation of greek amazons or something!! Wow.

    I don’t know what to tell you, Lisa, except that as the former owner of several ‘purebred’ WAHO type horses, I completely understand what you mean. I was the owner of Ziba (Dancing Magic x Shazla), a superior mare of Crabbet/Courthouse bloodlines which traced to the Krush mare Dafina in tail female, with multiple crosses to Skowronek. She was the quintessential Arab mare, better bred than many other ‘asils’, and a queen in her own right.

    I will need to think thoroughly about the questions you raised (e.g., is there any merit in discarding all ‘purebred’ non ‘Asil’ horses), and get back to you with an attempt at addressing them..

  10. Thanks Edouard, the actual ride was from Wales to Jordan, the Turkey bit just happened to be the bit without stirrups. I have always been an Arab devotee but this ride in which my husband and I rode two purebreds and had a partbred packhorsehas made me into an absolute obsessive about the breed! The story is on our website, (it was written for family and friends as we went along so it has some ‘jokes’ and references that would only make sense if you were Welsh, a certain age and had a certain taste in music and British humour so if you happen to read it bits may seem obscure.) The generosity, stamina, fortitude and kind cooperation shown by our horses on this trip exemplify what I mean about the reservoir of fine Arab attributes outside of the ‘Asil’pool.
    Equally though I have spent enough time with Bedouin to totally understand the importance of purity of blood. BTW we were asked many many times if Sealeah was Asil we always said yes as to our minds then she was, and with an awareness of the limits of definition still is, Hannah our 50% packhorse was obviously Kadish and seemed to be regarded as another species entirely by the Bedouin, as you will understand.
    I await your opinion with interest.

  11. Dear Edouard,
    I am sorry to contact you again via this thread but I am not sure if there is another way to contact you ( I am not very technologically minded so may be missing a link to your email) … sorry, and I don’t want to hijack another post.
    I find your blog extremely interesting and I want to be clear that I am not questioning for one minute the unique intrinsic value of a truly Asil horse, with all that that implies.

    When we were riding through the Middle East I had a more limited understanding (though was vaguely aware of the Polish gaps, Skowronek controversy and Manganate debacle for example.) I was learning Arabic and took Asil to mean purebred, as at the time I considered our horses purebred,
    thus I assumed that Asil was an accurate description, as were daily asked if Sealy was Asil.
    I have absolutely no axe to grind, my horses are Arab horses, (Sealeah Myranda, Shakmari Gold, Audin (sadly deceased) and Hassan Ibn Ukht Audin).
    I know that they, to you, are kadish and respect that view.

    I am however interested in what you and readers of this site feel about the interface between the Asil and WAHO horses.

    It goes without saying that Asil mares should only be put to Asil stallions, this blood is precious and irreplaceable.
    But what of WAHO mares? Are all non Asil WAHO horses simply not worth consideration? What of the precious Arab blood they carry in lines which is lost to the Asil pool?
    The reason that I ask is this… there is a massive reservoir of Arab blood outside that Asil pool, horses who trace to celebrated Asil mares,who have won at the highest level in endurance as well as other competitive disciplines, who have completed incredible feats of endurance and by their generosity, beauty and endurance inspired countless people to love the breed, they are Arabs.
    What I think is a shame is that many breeders of these horses are not even aware of your concerns and many indeed pay minimal attention to pedigree at all. ( Other than choosing a ‘fashionable’ sire. ) I brought this up with reference to your site on Arabian lines a while ago… asking people their views and to what extent they considered purity when choosing a sire, most responses were a vigorous defence of Skowronek (I had used quotes from Lady Blunt’s letters and correspondence re Polish studsto illustrate my point), dismissal of my concerns or reference to ‘Asil Fanatics’.
    I think this is a shame, for example I love and will (VERY occasionally) breed from my horses but would not use a Polish or French horse with lots of ‘gaps’. I would ideally use Asil sires and am particularly interested in bringing Syrian blood into Britain (I am an equine vet doing a lot of repro work, particularly with Arabs.).
    I feel that an open and dispassionate discussion of these issues outside of the circle of Asil breeders could result in more awareness and a more careful breeding of WAHO horses … ie a gradual elimination of past mistakes to purify to the extent possible the ‘purebred’ genepool … the horses who rightly or wrongly, represent the Arabian to many people. Again I repeat I absolutely respect and applaud Asil breeders. I do ‘get it’.

    The other element that concerns me is performance testing…. in the past celebrated mares in the desert were celebrated for great feats in war or flight, for endurance loyalty and intelligence. As you know,for example, Lady Blunt refers to the example of a mare being hamstrung and left to die for stumbling and causing the death of a Sheikh. Selection pressures don’t come more rigorous than this, and it is selection in this harsh environment that has made the Arab horse the miracle (to my mind) that he is. This element should surely carry equal weight, (or at least considerable weight) when selecting breeding stock as the detailed analysis of pedigrees. We now have Arab horses who have not even been RIDDEN nevermind proven under a degree of duress for several generations, this to my mind is as much a threat to the integrity of the breed as Skowronek ever will be. It is a dereliction of the debt of gratitude that we owe to the Bedouin.

    Another query that I would like to raise is the discussion regarding the antiquity of the breed… I don’t understand why there are references on here to’300 years’ when there are references in Western literature to the Arab horse much older than this, Arabic poetry of far greater antiquity refering to horses, artifacts and images of horses of Arab type again hugely predating such a timescale and I believe, Hadith refering to a greater bounty due to a warrior riding an Asil horse than a horse of no breeding etc.

    Another concern of mine is that the buyers… the big money buyers from the Gulf states are probably to a large extent shaping the future of the breed… they have, for their show stock,European and American advisors and buyers who to my certain knowledge are not concerned about functional conformation, temperament or pedigree but only with ‘type’ in the shallowest possible definition (head, neck, topline.)
    The other group of horses are their endurance Arabs, at least generous and functional but of very doubtful pedigree. Very worst of all is that these groups are entirely separate and diverging whereas to my mind the wonder of the Arab is his bottomless endurance, intense loyalty and generosity embodied in the most beautiful horse this world will ever see… ALL his virtues matter.
    Why are Arab Sheikhs turning to westerners for advice regarding their own breed of horse, if their direct contact has been broken, they have access to all the Arab literature, Bedouin experts and oral tradition.

    Edouard I am sorry that this post is long and rambling, I am very aware that you have a vast and deep knowledge of this subject whereas mine is still limited but I am asking out of genuine interest in your and others views on these matters, and with great respect. The history of the breed is of great interest to me and the future of deep concern.
    Thankyou for your patience.

  12. This is an excellent post, Lisa, and your point of view is backed up by more experience than most of us will ever have! Thank you!

    I believe that the current global show system has caused harm to the breed that, practially speaking, can not be reversed. Theoretically, yes. But professionals who are successful in the show system are successful because they keep moving the bar. The rest of the system just falls into the vacuum left by the move to more and more extreme characteristics.

    The vast majority of Arabian horses are not at all what you see in the show ring, but until the show ring is stopped in its extreme progression, the breed cannot heal itself. The effort to pull back from the extremes has been going on for decades, and it just keeps getting worse. So I am not an optimist!

  13. Lisa,

    No worries about your hijacking any threads, from me at least. I’ve been enjoying your posts, and look forward to reading your website!

    I *think* the references to 300 years,or 350 years, relate to the earliest written mention of strain names that we know of.

  14. Thanks Jenny.
    Yes (doh!) I realised afterwards that people were refering to the strains not breed … sorry blonde moment!

  15. “Why are Arab Sheikhs turning to westerners for advice regarding their own breed of horse, if their direct contact has been broken, they have access to all the Arab literature, Bedouin experts and oral tradition”
    My Dear Lisa
    It is simply because the Gulf sheiks ancestors never had or saw a horse.they were sea people ,even pitates ,the 19th century maps shows the gulf “Abu Dhabi and Dubai” as the Pirates coast ,then the India company tired of seeing its boats attaked by these pirates ,made a truce with them ,from this time the coast was known as “Trucial Coast” and the “Trucial States” until the U.A.E.
    these bedu are bnot “Horse people ” the Qatari are horse people.

    “I would ideally use Asil sires and am particularly interested in bringing Syrian blood into Britain”

    As for the Syrian blood you may use our stallion Hussam el Shamal frozen semen or send your mare to Normandy.
    just write to Arnault at

  16. I’m sorry for some errors in writing but I was in a hurry to go train my horses at 6 in the morning ,Sorry again.

  17. Hi Joe, Thanks for giving me the contact for your stallion, I did read about him on the website, I will contact Arnault.
    It is interesting what you say about the U.A.E, though I still don’t understand why they would not refer to the cultural heritage of other Arab people rather than Westerners. I may have expressed it badly by using the word gulf, I was refering to Royal families of the Peninsula whose near ancestors were horsemen, that to my certain personal knowledge are heavily influenced by the advice of Western ‘experts’.
    I can give you examples of what I mean if you email me.
    It is a shame of a situation that I just don’t understand and it is having a big effect on the breed, though probably not on the Asil group??
    Do you know of a forum where I can ask some questions regarding pedigrees and provenance of some specific horses? I feel bad using this blog as a forum!

  18. Hi Lisa
    my email is

  19. Wow, what a wonderful thread this has turned out to be. Many great points Lisa, Jeanne, Joe A, and others.

    While my comments could go on, I only offer two here. First, I do believe it is possible for the astute and open minded breeder to create great “tribal type” Arabians of excellent riding potential without themselves riding and evaluating ALL of their stock. There are, among readers of this blog, long-timers who know riding quality and have only singled out a select few horses of their programs for testing but overall have the ability to produce many horses of this quality from their knowledge and they also share this with others. From those people I trust will come well bred tribal type riding Arabians of great potential even if each one is not tested. I say this as encouragement for the newer small breeder who may not be in a position to afford the competing and testing of each horse they breed but can look to all sources of learning to develop an eye so that they can choose from time to time from their program a horse with potential, train it, ride it and learn from it and as their knowledge improves be able to see it in other horses and apply it to preserving the asil Arabian.

    The other point which is a philosophy of mine, is to continually tell the story of famous asil ancestors found in ALL pedigrees, especially the greater WAHO purebred base. You will see this in my writing and public presentations because it is how I got started learning about the breed and I have never forgotten my beginnings. So when I talk about a famous and popular sire of today’s show horses such as Versace (Fame VF x Precious as Gold by El Shaklan), I remind people of his root female ancestress, the magnificent Shammar Bedouin bred mare Abeyah imported by Homer Davenport in 1906 to the U.S. This mare is the one who won over the skeptic Arthur Moore in Davenport’s traveling party in the desert. Moore was a disbeliever in the merits of the Arabian horse until he was riding Abeyah, carrying 300 pounds of weight, galloping much of the way over 35 miles in 130+ degrees farenheit, in a period of about 4 and one half hours over rough ground. She withstood this test admirably and from that point on Moore became a believer in the Bedouin Arabian. What is even more remarkable is that she was, even by today’s standards, a very beautiful Arabian mare, with one of the most impressive heads. So even show people and new people need to continue to hear these true stories as to why the roots of this breed must be celebrated and why this kind of Arabian must be preserved. Even for me to see a similar kind of mare in 1996 (90 years after the importation of Abeyah) win the 7 KM race while I was visiting the Tai Bedouin tribe, is a reminder that this kind of horse is not in the past but must be an important part of the future of the Arabian breed. So for those who do not know the asil horse for what it really is, we must continue to build connections to it for the entire Arabian audience worldwide to see.

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