THE RUSSIAN ARABIAN
A brief overview By Albie Jacobs
he purebred Arabian, according to the deﬁnition of the World Arabian Horse Organization (WAHO), is any horse “that is accepted in a studbook that is accredited by the WAHO”. It is common practice to label all purebred Arabian horses according to their country of origin. Egyptians from Egypt, Spanish from Spain, Crabbet from the UK and Russian from the Soviet Union. The Russian Arabian horse has a rich history and has played a signiﬁcant role in the formation of the breed.
The Early Days At the Royal Stables of Ivan the Terrible (1530–84) there were many Argamaks and pure-blood Arabians. Early in the 18th century, Russian studs used about 100 Arabian sires. At the turn of the century, Count Stroganov and Prince Sherbatov undertook several voyages to Arabia and Syria and brought many valuable Arabian horses to Russia. More important perhaps are the contributions of the two friends to the understanding in Russia of the importance of Arabians for Russian breeding and a new approach to their breeding. In 1901, at their suggestion and with their contributions, the Stud Book of Arabian Horses in Russia with Pedigrees was published in St Petersburg. In the turmoil of the Civil War of 1917–20 the Tersk stud lost its stock, and so when on 11 February 1921 the stud was restored, it was necessary to start from scratch. The modern Russian Arabian breeding programme was therefore begun in 1930 at Tersk.
The State Stud Russian Arabian breeders have been following Stroganov and Sherbatov’s time-tested teachings, despite the many upheavals in the country. Russian Arabian studs would be destroyed and plundered in wars and revolutions and would arise from the ashes, get a new stock, and in a couple of generations the world would speak again of that enigmatic phenomenon, the Russian Arabian. There is no stopping it. Balaton, is an example. Breeding and racing practices may have changed a little since the days of Count Stroganov and Prince Sherbatov, but their spirit and attitudes live on. That is, an enormous respect for the desert culture that produced that horse, coupled with very cautious uses of what Western equine science and practice of the time could offer. In early 1921 a state-controlled breeding farm was begun at the former estate of Count Stroganov. Known as “Tersk” the farm began with native breeds but later concentrated on the breeding of Arabians when, beginning in 1930, new stock was introduced from various sources.
Hungary From Hungary, the grey stallion Koheilan IV was purchased. Koheilan IV’s use at the stud was limited because his foals did not meet expectations.
United Kingdom (Crabbet) The next major step in the development of the Tersk programme began with a trip in 1936 by a delegation of Russian horsemen to visit Lady Wentworth’s Crabbet Park stud in England. The Russians shared Lady Wentworth’s admiration for horses with strongly identiﬁable type and size. They also refused to purchase certain horses until they had speciﬁc individuals included in the package. The most important was the stallion Naseem. Upon completion of the negotiations, the Russians had purchased a total of six stallions and 19 mares. All of the English horses had pedigrees originating from the stallions Mahruss, Ibrahim, Ibn Nura, Mesaoud, and from the mares Rodania, Daﬁna, Dajania, Bozra, Sobha, Ferida and Hagar. The pedigrees of the English mares reﬂected signiﬁcant inbreeding to Mesaoud. Two mares with great production records at Tersk, Rixalina and Rissalma, had heavily inbred pedigrees. It is of interest to note that the pedigree of the important contributor, Naseem, does not indicate inbreeding. Of the stallions purchased from Crabbet, the best sire was Naseem. Siglavi in type, Naseem was used for service at Tersk for 17 years until his death at the age of 31 in 1953. In general, the crosses of the French stallions on to the English mares produced foals of better quality, conformation and beauty than either of the parents. The breeding results were generally unpredictable, however.
France In 1930, the Russian breeders from Tersk visited France and purchased the stallion Kann and six mares: Asisa, Gurara, Belle et Bonne, Kirza, Carabine and Sapin. All of the mares but Kirza were in foal at the time of purchase, adding ﬁve more offspring of French blood to the nucleus of purebred Arabians. The stallion Kann, however, was described as “exceptionally strong with a wide and deep chest, a long, very wide croup, having excellently developed muscles and dry, strong, correctly placed legs”.
Poland In 1939, Europe went to war. The events of that year had a profound and long-lasting effect at Tersk. An extraordinary group of Arabian horses, almost all of them from the Janow Podlaski stud, were moved from Poland to Tersk. Of the horses taken to Russia, the stallion Kohailan Said was not used with the purebred mares. Tysiacznik, another of the Polish stallions, was not placed into service at Tersk but was moved to Armenia. Oﬁr, Skrzyp, Taki Pan and Piolun were used in the purebred stud. Hardy, a Derby winner and record setter on the track in Poland, and Enwer Bey, the sire of Trypolis and Taraszcza, had very limited use. Sadyk Pasza was also a Polish stallion with limited use at Tersk. Many mares of the group taken to Russia in 1939 made a valuable contribution to the Tersk breeding programme. One example is Gazella II. She was most noted for her daughters, who produced excellent sires. For instance, Elegantka was the dam of Wielki Szlem, Makata was the dam of Witraz, and Taraszcza was the dam of Negativ.
Egypt There were several massive additions of Egyptian blood to the Tersk programme, but they have had no signiﬁcant inﬂuence. There was, however, one glamorous exception – Aswan. In 1963, an Egyptian stallion was given to Chairman Khrushchev by President Nasser as a small “thank you” for Russian ﬁnancing of the Aswan Dam. This magniﬁcent Nazeer son, Raafat, was renamed Aswan in honour of the occasion. In 1968, 19 Egyptian horses were imported to Russia. Of this group, only one stallion, Mohayed, was allowed to remain active at the stud. The other individuals and their progeny were removed from the studbook and the farm when the purity of their pedigrees could not be established. In 1973, another group of Egyptian horses was added to the Tersk programme, including the stallions Arafa and Nazeeh. Both had limited use at Tersk before being sent to an outlying stud. Nazeeh was later eliminated. The Russian Arabian is therefore a considered mixture of Crabbet, Polish, French and Egyptian bloodlines. Bred to the strictest of culling policies with a testing ground in Arab racing and the hard work required at the state studs. The contribution of outcrosses, like the use of Aswan on Arax and Priboj daughters, is the core issue at hand.
Western Influence And Contact Today Tersk has a working relationship with Kossack Stud in the Netherlands. Co-operative breeding programmes exist and Kossack is the portal for the Western horseman to the vast expanses of Tersk. Annual sales draw huge crowds from all over the world, in search of the mystical Russian Arabian. Quality broodmares, young stock, as well as seasoned stallions are for sale. This opportunity creates better awareness of the extreme qualities of the Russian Arabian. As the value of the Russian Arabian became known, breeders started to use these bloodlines in their own programmes and some of the better known winners trace to these bloodlines. Padrons Psyche, Marsianin and Muscat are sires of winners like themselves. In show rings the world over, some Russian names appear – Balaton, the horse of the century, Kubinec the King at Tersk, as well as his famous son FS Bengali. Breeders such as SAX in Germany, Shah Arabians (France) Sylvia Garde-Ehlert (Germany) and Forelocks (Netherlands) all have champions in their Russian horses. A number of clients from the Middle East are also looking into this source of champions. Other than show rings, Russian breeders value the performance of their horses in the performance arena. In racing they found a testing ground. If a horse can take the strain, physical and mental, of race training and racing itself and has proven that speed and adaptability shows in sport potential, it will be used in a breeding programme – otherwise it is culled from the stud farm.
South Africa It is not widely known, but a few Russian and Russian-related horses did make their way to South Africa. If carefully studied, their impact is rather extensive and the value of their bloodlines will only be visible after generations. The horses that were imported are: Bint Foze, 1974 (Salon x Foze), Nafal, 1985 (Nadejni x Flanka), Machelka, 1986 (Plakat x Mangani), Kapronaz, 1987 (Kapron = Aswan x Carolina [same as Patron!] x Zarzura), Gomar, 1990 (Gomel by Peleng x Marrah), Nepokorny, 1990 (Vatican x Nepokornaia by Arax), Etosha, 1990 (Vatican x Plomba by Mustang out of Passia), BHF Sting, 1994 (Padrons Psyche x Bey Serenade), Orlow, 1995 (Vympel by Menes x Bamba), Prinz M, 1996 (Mirok Monpelou by Vatican out of Gamila de Monpelou x Bamba), Bashoush, 1996 (NBR Seykret Cache x Vygoda by Murmansk out of Pandora by Nabeg), TRScarletScorpion, 1996 (Nariadni x HK Kuzata by Muscat ),TR Veritas, 1996 (Nariadni x Muscalean by Muscat), HS Chagall, 1997 (Kubinec x Cenika by Kilimandscjaro out of Cewierka), Tehama Rasputin, 1998 (Mussiah by Muscat x Magnesia by Menes), Lucchese, 2000 (Parys el Jamaal x LL Luisa by Ponomarev out of The Very One by Pesniar), Patrician B, 2004 (Besson Carol x Palitrina by Menes out of Palitra by Salon). One of the latest imports with strong Russian lines is the impressive Lumin (Laman HVP out of Cereniza, Kubinex x Cenika), showing that Russian Arabians are not always course animals but can also be ultra typey! Not all of them could be regarded as ‘pure Russian’, but the strong Russian inﬂuence can not be disregarded. Their progeny is a testimony to the value of the Russian Arabian in any breeding programme. Lumin
The Value Of The Russian Arabian Outcross
Performance - Show and Endurance
As an outcross to other bloodlines, the value is rather clear. Sidi Exclusive as a point with TRScartletScorpion as the sire and Sidi Istasha (Maistro x Vidiko Istanina by Vidiko Mhalak) as the dam. When BHF Sting was bred to Bint Aliala (The Minstril x Aliala by Ruminaja Ali), showstoppers such as Armika Sting’s Millennium were born. The Armika stud boasts a number of excellent horses by BHF Sting. When BHF Sting was used on the Crabbet dams of El Jamani, horses such as El Jamani Zaman and El Jamani Zihara were born.
As performance breeders, the inﬂuence of this small group of horses can not be ignored. The progeny of Sadat Dashar (by Kapronaz out of Sadat bint Vanessa by Darius) in endurance and interbreed competitions (with Anglo-Arabians) is widely known. A son of Gomar is doing well in endurance, carrying weight, with effortless movement and good pulses! The Nepokorny offspring is sought after in endurance – a partbred daughter (out of a Schneider mare) won the Albertinia 100 miler, while Casper, one of his partbred sons, was chosen to represent SA in the 2005 Fauresmith. Fanmar Ibn Sting (out of Fanmar Sadi = Vidiko Mawadi x Ahbot Sadri) also took part in this event.
The legacy of Bint Foze cannot be forgotten as she produced countless stars. When bred to Maistro she produced, among others, Sidi Ibn bint Foze, an in-hand as well as ridden champion on all levels, and when bred to Ahir the Star of the eighties, Samira el Sharif! Machelka has bred outstanding foals at Johrhemar and the free movement of Pantera (by Johrhemar el Gazell) will always be fresh in my mind during the open day held by Johrhemar in 2004. Even second-generation offspring inherit the movement of Plakat and Mangani. The newer imports, such as TRScarletScorpion, HS Chagall and Tehama Rasputin, will be valuable individuals when used carefully in breeding programmes, breeding for type and extreme free movement. If these and other pedigrees are studied carefully, it is clear that we have some of the best bloodlines worldwide in our midst. The sire of HS Chagall is Kubinec, World Champion, All Nations Cup winner and numerous international titles. His son FS Bengali (by Om El Sanadiva) is also champion in Europe as well as in the US. The sire of Nepokorny, Vatican was a race winner in Europe and sired a number of winners in Europe. The sire of Gomar, Gomel was a dressage champion in the very competitive European circuit. The list goes on, but the point is that these snippets are not widely known and should be kept in mind when making breeding choices. Even within the Russian breeding programme, the use of an outcross has proven to be of great beneﬁt in phenotype as well as genotype. The ultimate test is the function of the horse, and these horses with an outcross pedigree excel in all forms of the sport, be it endurance, ﬂat racing or other more classical disciplines.
In the ridden classes the BHF Sting progeny are doing well with their willingness to perform and excel as easy riding horses. TRScarlet Scorpion himself is doing rather well in the ridden classes and he excels with his mount in various classes. Sidi Ibn Bint Foze has been the Victor Ludorum in a number of Regionals as well as the National Championships. Another impressive feat was that of Berto Augustyn riding a total of 900 km from Karoopoort, Ceres to Kuruman in 15 days. The only horse that he could ride the whole distance, Steinmetz Concerto, is a son out of HS Chagall. Bred by Hoff Schimmelperd in Germany out of a Kilimandscharo daughter (Cenika) by the legendary Kubinec (Balaton x Kosmetica by Muscat), a World Champion himself. He shows all the promise of a breeding stallion that will put his stamp on his offspring, producing excellent riding horses.
The Future From the above it is clear that the Russian inﬂuence in the SA breeding and sport disciplines is on the increase as more breeders and competitors realise the real value and potential of this unique combination of horse. The ultra typey Madras Kossack is an example of the extreme beauty and movement that they bring to a breeding programme. As the ultimate outcross to the predominant Crabbet (with infusion of Egyptian) type mares, the value of the Russian as an outcross cannot be underestimated. It woud be unwise not to consider these talented sport horses within our breeding programmes, especially those that breed for purpose, such as endurance.
Haras de Moirmonay (MMN) The ﬁrst batch of imported semen is on the way from stallions of the Haras de Moirmonay, situated in the Ardenne, Belgium. Hawit Kmait MMN is a 16hh stallion well known in Europe, breeding sport horses that excel in their disciplines, be it endurance, eventing or jumping. His pedigree speaks of all the well-known horses in Russian breeding. He is by Kniazj (Naslednik x Kipuchaia by Pomerantes) out of Watiqa el Nuzahat (Numizmat = Aswan x Nemezida out of Prisca by Tamerlan out of Sonata). His size and extreme trot without loosing form makes him an ideal outcross for the South African endurance breeders. Another stallion that will be used in future is Nugum Khazan MMN. He is also by Kniazj but out of Ganuma Fursata. She is by Madras Kossack Komplekt (Patron x Karmen) out of Nuna (Nazeeh x Nochka by Semen). He is more reﬁned, in the Aswan tradition, and also shows a great trot. The MMN was represented in the 2005 Endurance Championships in Dubai with a horse in the Belgium team (who came third in the team competition) sired by another MMN stallion – Zatin el Usm MMN. The strength of the Russian breeding programmes is well known. In order to achieve the most from our local-bred mares, the infusion of these proven bloodlines can only augment the performance of the breeders that plan to use these bloodlines.The introduction of new blood will contribute to the enrichment of the genetic material present and the improvement of the population of Arabians in South Africa. The case of purposeful selection and thorough study of compatibility of the different lines deserves special attention. Will South African breeders optimise these mystical and magical animals for the beneﬁt of our shows and sport disciplines? Only time will tell. The value of other groupings, such as Crabbet, Polish and Egyptian, is not negated at all, but can act as the basis and kindling in this process. Nostrovia!
Sources Russians and “Russians” © 2001 by Alexander Repiev Russian Arabians by Cheryl Hines Overview of the Russian Bloodlines www.arabianbloodstock.com/Russian_Arabian_History.html Arab Horse Europe 6/2005. Outcross – The introduction of New Blood by Prof Oleg Balakshin SA Horseman Vol 4 no 5 September/October 2009