The Arabian horses of Egypt have inspired many people worldwide to become involved with Arabians. Their extraordinary beauty and long history of committed breeders in their native land have insured their popularity. In America they remain perennial favorites and Egyptian Arabians bred from stock imported to America have made their presence felt in virtually every country where Arabians are bred today.
THE EARLY YEARS 1895-1950
The first Egyptian Arabian to be brought to America was *Shahwan, who came via England and was imported by J.A.P. Ramsdell in 1895. He is found in pedigrees today through his American-born daughter Nonliker, though he has no descent among living straight Egyptians foaled in the U.S. (He is found in many Egyptian pedigrees also through his Egyptian-born son Ibn Yashmak). The next Egyptian horse to be imported fared better at having an unbroken line of descent into modern Egyptian breeding. This was *Ghazala (Ibn Sherara x Bint Helwa), imported by Spencer Borden from the Crabbet Stud in England though she was bred in Egypt. *Ghazala founded a strong female family in Egypt and her American-born grandson Gulastra is found in straight Egyptian horses bred in America through his son Julep.
Another early imported mare has a strong presence in modern American Egyptian pedigrees. *Exochorda was brought to America by Henry Herbermann, and was later owned by W.R. Brown, who bred her influential son Sirecho, a horse greatly prized by many. (Sirecho's straight Egyptian son Joramir was a U.S. Top Ten English Pleasure winner and sired Canadian National Champion Stallion Jora Honey Ku, who in turn sired U.S. and Canadian National Champion Mare VP Kahlua).
The first major importations from Egypt to America came in 1932. W.R. Brown of New Hampshire brought in a group of seven horses which included *Zarife, *Roda, *Nasr and *Aziza, all of whom appear in modern Egyptian pedigrees. *Zarife and *Roda are the parents of the black Hallany Mistanny, sire of 6 National winners and 19 producers of National winners. *Aziza's son Julep sired U.S. National Champion Stallion Synbad++ and U.S. National Champion Mare High Fashion++, among others. Unfortunately the Brown imports did not have as great a chance to influence modern American Egyptian breedings as those of the other group brought in the same year, the Babson importation.
After a multi-country search for Arabians that took him to England, France, Spain and Egypt, Henry Babson of Chicago imported seven horses from two different Egyptian studs. Of these, six had progeny and are found in current Egyptian breeding. Their enormous significance is beyond the scope of this article, but a book has been written about them entitled The Royal Arabians of Egypt and the Stud of Henry Babson (available from The Pyramid Society). For the record, the mares of the importation were *Bint Serra I, *Bint Bint Sabbah, *Maaroufa, *Bint Saada and *Bint Bint Durra. The latter two are rarer in pedigrees now. The only stallion of the importation was *Fadl, *Maaroufa's full brother.
From this seed stock Babson built an exceptional breeding program, which had some outcrosses to non-Egyptian lines for a number of years (through *Aldebar, *Sulejman, *Turfa and *Nimrod) as well as to some Nazeer-related horses like Ansata Abbas Pasha and *Ibn Moniet El Nefous. The outcrosses to horses unrelated to the 1932 imports ended some years ago, and the Babson farm will be ceasing breeding operations in 1998 after three generations of the family had maintained the horses.
Following the Brown and Babson importations, later imports from Egypt were few until the late 1950s. One noteworthy one was *Mamdouha, imported by Dan Gainey of Minnesota in 1947 along with her daughter *Gamila. *Gamila was later owned by the Atkinsons of Anchor Hill Arabians in Missouri and has bred on with straight Egyptian descendants. Also breeding on into modern Egyptian stock were two imports owned by the Queen Mother of Egypt in 1950: *Saema and Fadell, who were given to the Queen Mother's surgeon, Dr. Alfred Godward of California. Dr. Godward also acquired the stallion *Ibn Farhan in 1952, and bred him to *Saema several times. A third horse brought in by the Queen Mother, *El Akhrani, sired four registered foals in America, none of them straight Egyptian. The most significant stallion imported in this period was *Moftakhar, imported by Charles Votey Jr. of Massachusetts in 1951. He became the first Egyptian herd sire for Gleannloch Farms of Texas in 1960 and sired six straight Egyptian daughters who have bred on.
THE NAZEER ERA: IMPORTS 1958-1979
The first importations of what is termed "new" Egyptian horses were made in 1958. The term "new Egyptian" refers to horses bred in post-World War II Egypt, and especially at the new state stud outside Cairo, the Egyptian Agricultural Organization (EAO). (The EAO was formerly known as the RAS, the Royal Agricultural Society, before the departure of King Farouk in 1953). The "new" Egyptian horses were also distinguished by a particular look, attributable to one stallion, Nazeer. Foaled in 1934, Nazeer was rescued from the obscurity of a provincial stallion station by General Pettko von Szandtner, the first director of the EAO. Nazeer sired his first purebred foal in 1950 and his last in 1960, but in that decade left a legacy that will echo for centuries.
The first Nazeer get to come to America were all imported in 1958. Richard Pritzlaff of New Mexico brought in the Nazeer son *Rashad Ibn Nazeer and daughters *Bint El Bataa and *Bint Moniet El Nefous. (Pritzlaff also imported the Nazeer granddaughter *Bint Dahma and the El Sareei daughter El Dahma at the same time). Pritzlaff died in 1997, but the horses he bred for nearly 40 years are utilized in Egyptian breeding programs worldwide.
*Bint Moniet El Nefous
The most prolific importer of horses from Egypt in the 1960s and 1970s was Gleannloch Farms, owned by Douglas and Margaret Marshall of Texas. The Marshalls began with a non-Egyptian breeding program, added the stallion *Moftakhar, and made their first direct importation from Egypt in 1962. From 1962 to 1979 they imported a total of 60 horses, seven of them Nazeer get. Their head sire until his death in 1974 was the Nazeer son *Morafic, imported in 1965. *Morafic is the leading imported Egyptian sire of National winners and the all-time leading Egyptian sire of National winner producers.
Significant mares imported by Gleannloch include the Nazeer daughter *Bint Mona (the only imported Egyptian mare to produce four National winners), the Nazeer daughter *Bint Maisa El Saghira++ (the only mare to have U.S. top ten wins in halter, English pleasure and park), and U.S. Reserve National Champion Mare *Nahlah++ (a *Morafic daughter and winner of more National titles than any other imported Egyptian mare).
For many years, the star of the Gleannloch show string was the *Morafic grandson *Sakr+++, who won more championships than any other Egyptian Arabian including multiple national championships in park and costume. Notable Gleannloch-breds include the all-time leading Egyptian sire of champions, El Hilal (a double Nazeer grandson), and U.S. National Champion Futurity Colt Nabiel (by *Sakr+++), one of two Egyptian stallions to sire over 100 champions (Nabiel was the leading living Egyptian sire of champions for several years). The Gleannloch show string was always a force at every show it attended from the class A level to the Nationals, and Gleannloch horses won titles in halter and virtually every kind of performance from park to cutting. Several of the Gleannloch horses also competed successfully on endurance rides. The emphasis by the Marshalls on performance in addition to halter made it obvious to American Arabian owners that the Egyptian horses could hold their own in all types of endeavors.
Jay Stream (then of Illinois, now of California) bred Egyptian Arabians for a while before changing his focus to Spanish horses, and he imported one of the most important Nazeer grandget, U.S. Top Ten Stallion *Ibn Moniet El Nefous (by *Morafic), in 1965. *Ibn Moniet El Nefous went on to be the head sire for Bentwood, at one time the largest Egyptian breeding farm in the world, and sired 11 National winners (including National Champions in halter and performance) and 17 producers of National winners.
*Ibn Moniet El Nefous
1965-1980: SUCCESS IN THE SHOW RING &
FORMATION OF THE PYRAMID SOCIETY
The first national title won by a straight Egyptian Arabian was claimed by *Bint Maisa El Saghira++ in 1965 when she was named a U.S. Top Ten Mare and English Pleasure winner. The first national title won by an Egyptian stallion was *Ansata Ibn Halima++'s first U.S. Top Ten Stallion title in 1966. Many people were intrigued by the Egyptian imports but did not quite know what to make of them as their appearance was so different from the contemporary show horses--they were drier of head, more refined and slender. Still, the judges could not deny them their due, and the trickle of wins for Egyptian Arabians became a flood by the early 1970s. In 1969, three of the U.S. Top Ten Stallions were straight Egyptian, and in 1971, a straight Egyptian stallion (Ansata Ibn Sudan, a son of the two of the first Ansata imports) and mare (*Serenity Sonbolah) were named U.S. National Champion Stallion and Mare.
Horses of straight Babson breeding also captured a number of national titles, one of the most successful being Roufas, who had five wins including U.S. Reserve National Champion English Pleasure in 1974. Other notable winners in this time period are 1980 U.S. National Champion Mare Fa Halima (the first American-bred straight Egyptian mare to be a U.S. National Champion Mare), *Asadd++, U.S. National Champion Futurity Colts Al Metrabbi++, Dalul, and Ibn Morafic+++, and U.S. Reserve National Champion Futurity Colt Shaikh Al Badi.
With the newfound interest in Egyptian horses, several of the prominent breeders of the time, including Judi Forbis, Jarrell McCracken and Richard Pritzlaff, combined to form a fraternal organization to promote the Egyptian Arabian. The result was The Pyramid Society, founded in 1969. Today it is the only bloodline-specific promotional group in the breed to hold its own show, the Egyptian Event, begun in 1982 and held each year at the Kentucky Horse Park. The Pyramid Society's mission was to provide education and unity for the growing Egyptian breeding community in America. The educational aspect has helped familiarize many with Egyptian horses. The Society publishes a quarterly journal, "The Pyramid Report," as well as an annual stallion guide. Other publications from the Pyramid Society include eight volumes of The Reference Handbook of Straight Egyptian Horses (early ones are out of print) and The Manual of Straight Egyptian Arabian Horses compiled by Martha Murdoch, which lists all known straight Egyptian horses in America. The Pyramid Society has also developed a definition of a straight Egyptian horse that has become the standard for breeders both in America and abroad.
FURTHER SUCCESS: 1980 INTO THE 1990s
The 1980s continued to see Egyptian horses grow in popularity, particularly as investments. A number of auction sales were developed to feature both breeding stock and youngsters (there was a yearling sale held in conjunction with the Egyptian Event each year). Even when the market changed as a consequence of alterations in the U.S. tax laws, Egyptian horses continued to maintain a higher value than those of other bloodlines, and Egyptian horses bred in America enjoy a healthy export market, particularly to Europe and the Middle East. A notable example of international success of an American-bred Egyptian Arabian is U.S. National Reserve Champion Stallion and World Champion Stallion Imperial Imdal+. In addition to his international show triumphs, he was leased by Israeli breeder Uri Ariely for four years and sired a number of winners in that time. He is currently one of the leading living Egyptian sires of champions and has National winners to his credit in both halter and performance. Imperial Imdal+ was bred by one of the most successful currently active farms, Imperial Egyptian Stud of Maryland. His sire was bred at Ansata, and his dam at Gleannloch.
The breeding community for Egyptian horses has become international, and in the last 20 years American owners have imported Egyptian horses bred in many foreign countries, including Australia and Germany. The 1994 U.S. National Reserve Champion Stallion Thee Desperado is by multi-top ten stallion The Minstril, whose dam *Bahila was bred in Germany. Thee Desperado is a paternal grandson of the dynastic Ruminaja Ali, who was himself a U.S. National Champion Futurity Colt and U.S. National Reserve Champion Stallion. Ruminaja Ali sired National Champions in halter and performance, including U.S. and Canadian National Champion Stallion Ali Jamaal. His death in 1997 was mourned worldwide.
In addition, many Egyptian Arabians bred in America have been sold all over the world. A prime example of the influence of American breeders on Egyptian horses worldwide is the 1991 U.S. and Canadian National Champion Stallion and World Champion Stallion *Simeon Shai, the only stallion ever to win those three titles in the same year. He was bred at Australia's Simeon Stud, but his sire and maternal grandsire were both American-bred. His sire, Ra'Adin Royal Star, combines Babson and Gleannloch blood and is a grandson of *Tuhotmos. *Simeon Shai's maternal grandsire is Sankt Georg RSI, bred by Richard Pritzlaff. Sankt Georg RSI is a son of the Ansata stallion Ansata El Salim (who is out of a straight Babson mare) and *Bint El Bataa, one of the original 1958 Pritzlaff imports. Thus, his pedigree epitomizes the best of Egyptian Arabians bred in America.
The American Egyptian community has been a unifying factor for fanciers of the desert horse worldwide. In this age of diplomatic difficulties, love of the Egyptian Arabian transcends national boundaries and age-old feuds as breeders unite to create the best possible horses. The Egyptian Arabian remains for many the ideal of type and beauty, a standard-bearer for all, who has united nations and people.
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