Arabian Crabbet History
|One of the outstanding contributions came from the Crabbet Stud in England. The facility was operated between 1878 and 1971. The first owner was Wilfrid and Lady Anne Blunt, and then it passed to their daughter Judith (Lady Wentworth). Later it was operated by Cecil Covey. Their personal history is one of adventure.
During the early years, the Crabbet Stud bred their stock from desert-bred imports. In 1891, they introduced horses from the Ali Pasha Sherif lines. These lines from Ali Pasha and the desert breds were blended for 19 years. Later, in 1920, a Polish outcross was introduced.
Crabbet Stud – England
Crabbet Park’s principal title to fame, is its stud of Arabian horses of the pureset breed, owing to which it has enjoyed an altogether international celebrity, and the sales of Arab stock which used to take place there every three or four years prior to the war years. These sales were attended by horse lovers from all parts of Europe. The first Crabbet Sales was held on 2 Jul 1882. Long regarded throughout Arabia as the most powerful and devoted friend and champion of the Arab and Egyptian races, Wilfrid Blunt was able to obtain from the various chiefs’ and emirs’ stallions and, above all, mares of the most famous and purest breed. Horses with pedigrees as highly prized as those of the descendants of the Prophet’s family, and which not even the Sultans of Turkey or of Egypt could buy.
The first purchase was in 2 Jul 1878. Six horses were purchased and sent to the Crabbet Stud in England. There was a second in 1878-79 and third trip with the last in 1881.
In 1877-78, the Blunts became obsessed with finding horses related to the great Darley Arabian. It is in this year that they made one of the most important purchases in Arabian history. Danjania was purchased on December 25. If not for her, the Arabian breed would have never been blessed with Naseem, *Silver Drift, *Serifix, *Nasik, Sindh, or Indian Magic. Danjania is the tail female of all these horses through her daughter Nefisa (Hadban x Dajanai). This line was known at Crabbet as the “N” line and are renowned for producing exceptional stallions.
In the following year, 1878, the Blunts purchased the mare Queen of Sheba for £265 from a Gomussa Sheik. Through her son *Astraled by Mesaoud, she is best known. It is through *Astraled that Sotamm II was born. Sotamm II sired Kaseem, who was imported by the Royal Agricultural Society in Egypt. He sired the mare Bint Samiha, who in 1934 foaled an Arabian legend — a grey colt named Nazeer.
The Abbas Pasha had during his life time about 600 horse that were selected through war campaigns. He had developed 3 establishments. When he passed on, his son, Elhamy Pasha, did not share his father’s passion. In 1860, he placed on auction 210 mares, 90 stallions, and 180 fillies and colts. Ali Bey (Ali Pasha Sherif) bought most of the horses – though many people from all over Europe were present at the sale. Later, Prince Mohamed Ali of Egypt secured these horses. The Arabians had been interchanged with Crabbet breeding for several years. The Prince Mohamed Ali’s stock became the foundation for the Royal Agricultural Society’s stallions and used to improve the quality of country bred horses.
Wilfrid Blunt managed to secure the entire stud of Arab horses belonging to Ali Sherif Pasha of Cairo, whose stock was descend from Abbas Pasha. The first Crabbet sale was decended from the famous mares which Abbas I of Egypt obtained from Arabian more than four-score years ago at the then phenomenal cost of $600,000.
Time was divided between their other country seat in Sussex, a wonderful old manor house near Horsham, bearing the curiously inappropriate name of New Buildings Place and Martarieh, their Egyptian home near Cairo.
The Blunts became obsessed with Arabian culture. Many trips were made to the Middle East and the couple became acquainted with many tribes — as no Europeans had before them. Lady Anne was said to be fluent in Arabic and Willfrid became very involved in the Egyptian Nationalist Movement. They eventually, 16 Feb 1882, purchased property near Cairo Egypt called Sheykh Obeyd. This property had originally belonged to the son of Mohammed Ali. It became the “half-way house” for Arabians purchased throughout the East. The best from this stud were sent to Crabbet.
The first of the Blunt’s purchases had a distincly thoroughbred look to them and demonstrated the strong thoroughbred taste of England and the ideals of the Bedouin tribes. Their purchases reflected the more “classical” Arabian cherished by this nation. They sought the more chiseled heads, shorter backs, and gentle dispositions that made the Arabian famous. The Blunts became extremely meticulous in their research and analysis of these horses. Any horses that proved to be of questionable parentage were quickly sold or given away.
Many other horses were purchased at this time, but only one other had an impact on today’s Arabian. The horse was a small, rather coarse brown mare with a small white star. She was a disappointment to the Blunts, who researched her to be of pure Darley descent, but felt her qualities not to their liking. Her name was Wild Thyme, and she delivered two foals for Crabbet before she was sold to Spencer Borden. She then faded from equine history and was all but forgotten until 1983. The U.S. Nationals have always been a prestigious show where Arabian breeding programs were tested in the show ring. In 1983 Arnett Perlane was named the U.S. National Champion Stallion. He is ultimately refined at 15+ hands, with a chiseled head and beautiful large eyes. He put Wild Thyme at her rightful place in Arabian history. It was that coarse, little brown mare who will always be remembered as Arnett Perlane’s tail female.
The Blunts again traveled to Egypt in 1880 and met Ali Pasha Sherif at his stud. They made numerous purchases from him in the following years. In 1881, they visited Abu Fayal, and it is there that they purchased the mare Rodania. Rodania became the most cited tail female in the pedigree of the U.S. National champion halter stallions. In fact, she is prominently represented in the pedigrees of many Egyptian, Polish, Spanish, Russian as well as American and others. Also in this year, Wilfrid became ever more supportive of the Egyptians — angering his homeland. When a large number of guns were found at Sheykh Obeyd, the Blunts were banned from Egypt. It was not until 1887, that they returned.
By 1888, the Blunts were once again established at Sheykh Obeyd and found that all but the Ali Pasha Sherif lines were proving to be unpure. Again a lot of horses were sold as their pedigrees could not be verified. It was then in the late 1890s that things began to crumble for the Blunts personally. Wilfrid became involved in the use of drugs to alleviate pain from old and new injuries. It is believed that his use became abusive and paralled to a sudden behavior change. Charges of infidelity by Lady Anne and Wilfrid’s extreme paranoid behavior supports this. The Blunts eventually separated in 1906. She retired to Sheykh Obeyd in Egypt, and he remained in England.
When Lady Anne died in 1917, Wilfrid felt that the Crabbet Stud would naturally become part of his property. When it was discovered that the Stud was bequeathed to Lady Anne’s grand children, Wilfrid launched a legal case to recover the property. Judith stepped in to protect the property and her children’s rights.
In his rage, he ordered several of the horses from Crabbet to be taken one night. He ordered Lady Anne’s personal favorite mare, Burka, (dam of Berk) to be shot on the spot because she was too heavy in foal to travel. He also dispersed the stud at Sheykh Obeyd. The best horses were sold to America, forever lost to Crabbet. To Wilfred’s great surprise, the suit was won by Judith (Lady Wentworth) and she was now the owner of Crabbet. The distruction of Crabbet was ended and the greatest era was about to begin.
In Egypt, a vast horse plague had wiped out many of the country’s finest Arabians. The Royal Agricultural Society sought to replace the herd. Primarily using the blood of Ali Pasha Sherif breeding (half of which were bred at Crabbet or at Sheykh Obeyd) the Royal Agriculture Society sent a representative to Crabbet. Nineteen horses were purchased including, Bint Riyala, Bint Rissala, Sotamm II, and Rustem. These horses where a great impact on the modern Egyptian breeding programs.
It is also in this year that Lady Wentworth acquired the great stallion Skowronek. This Polish stallion was owned by HVM Clark. Lady Wentworth saw him at a show and somewhat deviously acquired him by sending an agent who did not reveal her as the buyer. This was commonly done by the wealthy to insure a fair price.
In 1926, there was another high point in Crabbet history. A man named Carl Schmidt was sent by cereal king, M.K. Kellogg to purchase horses for his breeding program. Seventeen horses were bought and made their trek to America. Among these were *Ferda, *Rossana, *Bahreyn, *Rasma, *Nasik, *Raseyn, and *Raswan. *Raswan was actually given to Carl personally as a gift from Lady Wentworth. Carl had promised Kellogg that he would not except gifts but had fallen in love with the beautiful *Raswan. He made it quite obvious that he wanted the horse for his own. He was always with *Raswan got away from him on one of their rides. The horse badly injured a fetlock and had to be put down a month later. So destroyed was Carl that he changed his surname to Raswan in memory of the great stallion.
*Raswan left behind three offspring. The stallion Ferhan, who contributed to the pedigrees of many British horses through Indian Gold. A filly named Star of the Hills, who’s daughter Taktika contributed much to Russian and Polish breedings. Finally a filly named *Rose of France, who was imported by Selby to America and is present in many U.S. pedigrees today.
In 1930, the Duke of Veraqua visited Crabbet and purchased four Skowronek daughters, Jalila, Shelifa, Reyna, and Namira. The fate of these horses are uncertain because of the Spanish Civil War. The duke was murdered by anti-Franco forces and the horses were dispersed. Those that survived the war were rounded up and identified by the Duke’s brand. These horses figure in the pedigrees of modern Spanish Arabians as the Duke de Varaquq breds as their names and records had been distroyed.
In 1930, Roger Selby returned to Crabbet to purchase a horse that would ultimately make one of the larget impacts on American breeding programs ever. The horse’s name was *Raffles. In the same league as *Bask and *Raseyn, *Raffles is seen in a high percentage of American pedigrees. He was the product of the line breeding of Skowronek to his daughter *Rafala. *Raffles was thought to be impotent, but became one of the greatest American imports in Arabian history.
In 1936, the Russians came to Crabbet and purchased nineteen mares and six stallions. Among these were Naseem, Rissalma, Ruanda, Ruellia, Ryama, and Star of the Hills. These horses survived WWII and through their offspring made a great impact on Russian breeding.
South Africa and Australia also benefited from the breeding at Crabbet. South Africa purchased Raktha, sire of +Serafix in 1951. Australia bought Silwan, Rikham, and Silver Moonlight. Through these horses, a new appreciation is now just being felt in the United States.
In 1957, Lady Wentworth died leaving behind a dynasty of fine Arabians. The Crabbet stud was left to Geoffrey Covey, the stud’s manager. However, Geoffrey died several days before Lady Wentworth, so the stud was left to Geoffrey’s son Cecil. To meet the death taxes and deal with land division of the Crabbet Stud property, Cecil had to sell some of the land willed to him. Bazy Tankersley imported some thirty-two horses from Crabbet and another stud. These horses went to America and Crabbet received the necessary financial resources it required. This transaction was destined to make a big impact on the breeding of the Al Marah stud in Tucson Arizona.
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