What is a strain?

By Edouard Aldahdah

Posted on February 11th, 2008 in USA

This question was one of several that were asked to a virtual panel of American, German and Arab breeders and students of Arabian horses, to be featured in Al-Khamsa‘s flaghship publication, Al Khamsa Arabians III.  You will no doubt have guessed that the question elicited as many different answers as there were ‘experts’.  This was my answer to the question: “Strains are typically a collection of names (Kuhaylan, Saqlawi, Ubayyan, Dahman, etc.) that constitute the Bedouins’ way of identifying a horse and tracing its provenance.  This would help them determine whether a horse is an Asil Arabian or not.  Strains function very much like family names for human beings.  The only difference is that Arabian horses’ family names (i.e., strains) are invariably transmitted through the dam, while in most societies human beings family names are transmitted through the father.”

12 Responses to “What is a strain?”

  1. Thank you Edouard

    for that opening understanding of what a strain is. Here in the USA some Strains have been lost,I would hope in he near future(God Willing) that we could import these lost DB strains back to America as well as to bring in new Asil DB strains lines that never came here before, and add thAt blood to what we have here. I believe it truly needed.

    Abu Uwais Al-Mahgribi

  2. I could not agree more. An infusion of desert blood is badly needed at this stage, to retrieve of the original qualities of desert horses. The last infusion of this type dates to the 1960s, with some of the BLUE STAR horses.

  3. Edouard

    Shukran again, I know what you mean I have what is called DB Asil Blue Star mares. I also use stallions for a out cross to them Called DB Davenports Stallions as a out cross them for fresh blood. One of the stallion is a cross of a Davenport and Nufoud cross tail female Nufoud. his Dam is a Nufoud grand daughter and her sire was a DB Asil Davenport.Excellent crossing with the DB blue star mares for they are Muhairah and Turfa and Al-Hamdaniyah tail female. So this is why I ask about the Bahrain Studs as another mean to use as a out cross for additional fresh blood. But as you said we need to infuse some new Asil Desert blood from the desert.This is my goal. Also My mares are heavily bred with Ibn Sirecho, and Sirecho. My question is was Sirecho with any Managhi in his pedigree?

    Abu Uwais Al-Mahgribi

  4. Dear Abu Uwais, I am glad you express concern for preserving rare strains in the US. One stallion that concerns me is the Bahraini stallion Mlolshaan Hager Solomon who is accepted in Al Khamsa. He is here in Michigan. He is of the Mlolshaan strain, very rare. He would be 22 years old this year. He has one Al Khamsa daughter who would be 5 this year. I recently posted some comments about him on StraightEgyptians.com where Bahraini horses were being discussed. I share here those comments:

    “I just happened on to this thread and see that someone mentioned the Bahraini stallion Mlolshaan Hager Solomon. I know this horse and worked with his owner Bill Biel to help get the stallion registered and later proposed him to Al Khamsa and finally got him accepted into their roster. I have not seen him recently, but knowing the loving care of his owners he should still be around, at 22 years old this year. In 1996 he was not yet registered and I was encouraged by a friend in Bahrain, Danah Al Khalifa, to go and see the horse who was about 3 hours away from me. I visited in June of 1996 and was very impressed with the stallion. Mr. Biel explained the interesting history behind the gift of this horse from Shaikh Mohammed which I will not have space to go into here. Suffice it to say this gift was treasured for many years before the family was finally encouraged to register him as they were not originally horse or Arabian horse people. The horse was eventually registered some time during my appeal to Al Khamsa (even though Al Khamsa does not require registration to be considered in their roster). I thought I would share with you a few comments from my correspondence to Danah Al Khalifa after seeing the horse in June of 1996:
    ‘This horse is a wonderful animal. 10 years old, white with a very pearl like quality to his coat and mane, very fine coated, fine skinned and fine clean bone with ample tendon. The veins are not only prominent in his face but very large as well. He is very much like many of the Davenport Arabians here in America. [reminiscent of Prince Hal] He has the most beautiful, soulful dark eyes, with very long eyelashes. A very wise, smart and friendly horse that has a wonderful disposition, extremely calm and confident but also showy only when he comes near other horses. Mr. Biel’s children ride this horse as well as does Mr Biel. He taught him to rear up and clap his front hooves together and made several attempts to do so for the video I took. For some reason, Mr. Biel kept preferring to stand the horse stretched beyond necessary but several times I got Mr. Biel to stand him normally. Hager’s body proportions are very harmonious, graceful flowing lines with nothing to excess (as Homer Davenport put it) all fitting in to the illusion of a sort of square shape. His height is about 14.2 but with enough air underneath him to give the impression of being taller. He walks like a predator, long reaching stride, long free shoulder. At liberty, he runs flat out from the body down like a swift runner, but carries his head relatively high and strongly positioned. His full speed trot is extremely driving swallowing up enormous amounts of ground with tremendous drive from behind and lots of reach in front with a little float and dwell. [his trot reminded me of the published photo of the Saud mare *Al Obayyah at full trot.]
    We walked the mile over to Mr. Biel’s neighbor’s large paddock for the at liberty footage and periodically Hager would do something interesting. Most stallions are keen of scent anyway, but he would ever so often raise his head up very high but keeping the plane of his skull parallel to the ground and open his huge nostrils, slowly drinking in a large volume of air which he was clearly analyzing for familiar scents. The way in which he did it was more like one would expect from an elk or a caribou in the wild. His eyes grew large and with an intense but distant stare. He was clearly thinking about what the scents meant to him but he never broke stride. This was akin to the more common sniffing and curling of the lip that we are used to seeing in Western stallions but his ability to expand his nostrils so large and take in so much air makes his doing this much more dramatic. After doing this he seemed to know exactly where every building was that housed a horse before any horses made any sounds.’

    At any rate Mlolshaan is registered and he does have 3 get, one of which is an Al Khamsa mare, a 2003 grey mare named THANK HEAVEN AHR#600593. I hope he still has the opportunity to sire a few more.”

  5. Thank you so much Joe, for a detail information about this stallion. I am trying to locate Mr. Bill Biel, to make arrangement with him about breeding two mares that are by my stallion name Arrogaance#337563 they are tail female *Muhairah. They are full sisters and as you may know or not Arrogaance is the last living son of Ibn Sirecho. He has no sons that can breed they were all gelded for riding horses. So I want to breed these daughters of his to this stallion to infuse the lines and add that desert blood with there. if you can in any way contact Mr. biel please contact me at sanhadjabedu@yahoo.com I would greatly appreciate it.

    Abu Uwais

  6. Danah Al Khalifa she Was visited Saudi Arabia and she Seen some horses At Prince Turki Farm.

    Joe Ferriss I Want you to Ask Danah Al Khalifa About our horses and Why Prince Turki Rejected Given horses to Al Khalifa Family
    Al Khalifa Family Only take horses free
    from Al-Saud family and Saudi People

  7. Al Khamsa .Meaning Five mares of Prophet Ismail bin Ibrahim .Gived from God .and Still With his sons Bedouin Arab .

    What and Where Five mares ?
    I Found Three mares .
    1-Kuhaylan
    2-Ubayyan
    3-Dahman

    Two mares is Lost.
    I’m think and May be is 1- jilfan .
    2-Managhi

    Note Saqlawi is Hadban and Hadban is
    Abu maraif and is Kuhaylan ajuz.

    We Have Rare Strain No one and no anyCountry Have This Strain Only in Saudi Arabia

    the Strain is Kuhaylan Alshahyb
    her Mother om maraif
    and Kuhaylh Alshahyb her sister is Hadba

  8. Do you have a picture of Kuhaylat al-Shuhayb or al-Shuhaybah?

  9. the Abbas Pasha Manuscript Written More than twenty-page in Manuscript About Kuhaylat al-Shuhayb it is Very Pure and Very asil .
    Will try to Sent you a picture .

    There is Many Strains Very Pure asil

    I Will write about it

  10. I understand the meaning of “strain” but I am confused as to meaning of “sub-strain.” Can someone explain, please? Thank you.

    Elena Latici
    Bologna, Italy

  11. a substrain or marbat in Arabic is essentially another name that comes to add further information on a strain, such as the name of the Bedouin individual or tribe associated with this strain, or some feature of a well known mare from this strain, or a famous event associated with that strain. For instance: in Kuhaylan Jallabi, Jallabi is the sub-strain (or marbat),and it connects the strain to a man called Ibn Jallab; some for Kuhaylayn Rodan to Ibn Rodan; in Kuhaylan Haifi, Haifi is a substrain, it is a reference to an event called Hayf which was associated to this strain.

  12. Thank you Edouard for that very clear and helpful answer! What a difference it makes for me to finally understand.

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