The Emmon issue

By Amelie Blackwell

Posted on August 31st, 2017 in General

Among the foundation stock of Old French Bloodlines, I would like to discuss one specific horse : the stallion Emmon born in 1819. Some have considered his blood as “Asil” for decades. But, does he really fit the “Asil” definition?
What do we actually know about this horse? Honestly not much. The first french studbook describe him as : “a grey 1819 Arabian stallion, bought in England by Strubberg Senior and de Bony”. He stood at Pompadour from 1825 to 1836 and died in January 1837.
Can we trace him to “Bedouin breeding of the Arabian peninsula”? No. No data from his breeding source is given in the French Studbook, nor inside the Journal des Haras.

Indeed, he is sometimes listed as an Arabian horse…but also, he is sometimes not. Although, one must confess that French authorities did their best to try to classify their “oriental imports” (from Persians to Barbs), having him or any other horse listed as “Arabian” is not enough to prove he was “Asil”. We shall agree that the knowledge of “oriental breeds” was lacking depth at that time. The difference between Thoroughbred horses bred in England and orientals imports was also suffering great troubles. They were, in most occidental countries, listed together in the same Studbooks. In France, until 1891, every horse either sired by an oriental or Thoroughbred stallion and foaled out of an oriental dam-line was listed under the “oriental section”. Ephrem Houël, the French Stud Officer who compiled exhaustive data of every Thoroughbred and Oriental stallion introduced in France before the 1860’s does even not mention Emmon in his purebred horse listing.
So, I have searched for more information about him in the General Studbook of Weatherbys. No horse is recorded under this name. As some of you shall know the Studbook describe exports. But I could find no purebred Arabian matching the description of Emmon inside the 1810’s to 1830’s issues. The Studbook does feature a good number of “Arabian” horses, some of them famous stallions exported (fore example Buckfoot to Germany).

One would easily argue that not much either is known of  several foundation stock horses already qualified and recognized as “Asil” horses. But, in that case, they are linked to names of Asil horse breeders that we can trust. So what do we know about Strubberg Senior (Charles George Strubberg père)  and Count of Bony (Jospeh de Bony)?

The name Strubberg should ring a bell to any horse enthusiast who ever got interested in European Warmblood breeding in the early 19th century. This family ruled some of the most successful breeding programs from Trakhnen to Le Pin. Strubberg was in charge of the famous Zweibrucker Stud on the French/German border for many years and later head of the Rosière aux Salines Stud in East of France. Without any doubt, this was a family of great horsemen, wise and successful breeders. But they were not purist in anyway. The success of the old Trakhner breed or the old Zweibrucker breed  was the same recipe : breeding Warmblood horses for cavalry purpose and mixing oriental and Thoroughbred bloodlines. Holbein, one of the most successful Thoroughbred stallion in France during the 1820’s and 1830’s, was selected at Lord Exeter‘s in England and imported by Strubberg Senior in 1826 (likely within the same group of imports as Emmon).

About de Bony, he was director of Pompadour for a year. But his most infamous accomplishment was the fire who severely damaged the castle of Pompadour during his charge (while the man was running the country chasing for romance). Fortunately, the Stud’s barns and horses were safe but he got fired from his duty soon after the dramatic event. He was later reintegrated mostly in an honorific form, due to the strong support he received some influential friends. He was curiously praised by many while Lespinats who succeeded him brilliantly, devoting his life to what would become the true major step towards the foundation of Pompadour’s breeding program, was sometime despised.

So what? Do we actually care if such a remote ancestor as Emmon, indeed was an “Asil” stallion? He may well have been. I have followed the track of 9 horses sent from Aleppo to England by the Pacha of Tripoli’s ambassador in 1819 from which the famous stallion Bagdad was part of. Three of them eventually made it to England while six of them were purchased by the French National Studs (likely Noma, Shami, Hadban, Rhadeban and Raz-El-Fedawe). Could one of the two remaining horses be Emmon, or his dam imported in foal? Maybe. But there is no proof I could find to emphasis this hypothesis.

Ultimately, Emmon’s blood is widely represented in worldwide breeding programs through his great-grand childs: Bou-Maza (1847) and Moheleda (Bis – 1850) bred by Baron of Nexon. There is not a single doubt that many “Asil” horses were imported to France since the 1810’s. And many of them were bred to the descendants of Emmon. These horses have proved their value in many ways over the last two centuries…but can we reasonably pretend that they are “Asil”?

2 Responses to “The Emmon issue”

  1. this story brings up an interesting story i heard about four years ago about a gift horse. The lady who wound up with the horse gave this story. this stallion given to a diplomat working for the USA in a government capacity was gifted an black arabian stallion from – i am to understand Arabia- our government would not allow him to keep the gifted stallion-he was not registered here and passed along to someone in a circus type situation where this stallion was supposedly a stellar performer-again never registered.as he aged the owners passed him on to this Lady who had him as an aged horse who wound up loving him till his death. This all was supposed to have happened in Texas.. My point is that a gifted stallion from a very notable personage may not have had a paper trail-as the gift from a highly esteemed person was not to be questioned and because one may recieve such a gift does not mean one can upkeep or want/value such a gift and just pass it on-no paper trail. I do not mean to muddy the waters-but i have heard of these stories quite a few times. And not to sully our wonderful Arabians-but many times they have been considered small horses-it is hard to imagine anyone thinking of passing one off as an Arabian- would be any particular plus-unless the horse was of such unquestionable beauty and finess- an explanation had to be given. i apologize in advance if i have been in error bring up this conversation. I was thinking of possibly an answer to many of the ‘mysterious’undocumented Arabians in old pedigrees.

  2. Notes pour recherches à suivre : squelette à Pompadour ? tableau Jean-Baptiste Clément Alluaud ?

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