The mare in the photo quizz..

By Edouard Aldahdah

Posted on March 26th, 2008 in France, Tunisia

.. is Naziha, an Asil Kuhaylat al-‘Ajuz from Tunisia. 

That this small North African country is home to such classic specimen of Asil Arabians as Naziha may come as a surprise to some, yet Tunisia harbors one of the best collections of Asil Arabians anywhere.  Most Tunisian Asils trace to desert-bred horses imported from Arabia by the French.

The French?

France occupied Tunisia in 1881, but kept the local ruling family in place.  The ruling family owned a small stud of Arabian horses in the town of Sidi-Thabet, to the southwest of the capital city of Tunis, which the French overtook and expanded.  The stud of Sidi Thabet specialized in breeding Asil Arabians using original desert stock imported from the Arabian desert.  The resulting Tunisian Asils were either raced or bred to Barbs to produce an Arab-Barb cross that was highly appreciated by the French cavalry units stationed in North Africa.     

When the French finally withdrew in 1956, the newly independent Tunisian goverment took over Arabian horse breeding at Sidi-Thabet, following the French’s footsteps, but many fine horses went to France with the returning European settlers. More horses went to France in the 1960s, and 1970s. Naziha was one of those. She was raced in Tunisia before being exported to France. I took this photo of her at the farm of her owner Pierre-Henri Beillard, in 1995. She was 32 years old.


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