chose the sonnet form for this poem. The sonnet is one of the most rigious
forms of poetry in the English language. Much can be said in a sonnet,
but what makes a sonnet a sonnet is that everything must be stated in 14
lines of rhymed iambic pentameter. No more. No less. Nothing else will
sonnet begins "Nuns fret not at their convent's narrow room . .
." He goes on to tell of other people who choose restricted lives
yet feel no confinement because their choices are voluntary. Then he expresses
his contentment at the restrictions of the sonnet form in poetry.
was a time when most Arabian horses were owned for very utilitarian purposes.
The Arabs had them go on raids, and, when horses ceased to be useful for
that purpose, most Bedouin owners no longer kept them. Although the horses
are a heritage to us from such hands, they are usually not objects of utility
in our lives. In large part, our interest in them is aesthetic.
we keep and breed these animals for beauty, we are not so different from
William Wordsworth, who was seeking beauty, too; In the strict lines of
the sonnet, he found freedom of expression. In the strict lines of Arabian
horses, we, too, find freedom to express the loveliness of these horses.
who breed Davenport horses as a field of activity have chosen one of the
most restricted of all Arabian breeding groups in overall scope. Far from
being a handicap, since 1955, these restrictions have helped bring this
group from a little nucleus of about 15 horses to their present number
(in 1988) of about 500 breeding individuals. In spite of this growth in
numbers, Davenport horses are still a rarity and an endangered species
in the Arabian horse kingdom. More important than their rarity is that
these five hundred horses are successful individuals which fit into a number
of vigorous, distinct breeding programs within the large Davenport context.
Each one of these has a very good prospect of going on and being successful
in its own right or alternatively of combining with parallel Davenport
breeding groups in an effort to bring the good features of each group together
in one horse.
breeding started in 1906 with the 24 *** horses which are registered by
the Arabain Horse Registry as imported from Arbia by a man named Homer
Davenport. Of these, 20 appear in the pedigrees of current registered Arabian
horses. However, only 15 (*Haleb,*Muson, *Hamrah, *Wadduda, *Gomusa, *Deyr,
*Reshan, *Abeyah, *Urfah, *Werdi, *Farha, *Hadba, *Jedah, *Haffia, *Abbeian)
are represented in pedigrees which do not also trace to something else.
By custom, the living horses tracing to these 15 horses and no others are
called "Davenport" Arabians.
any breeding group of Arabian horses tracing to only 15 ancestors who lived
in 1906 is pretty restricted to begin with. As Arabian breeding developed
in this country, the restriction was further tightened because usually
little systematic effort was made to keep Davenport bloodlines intact as
a breeding group. Many nice Davenport horses were bred, but these horses
were so successful in outcross breeding that they tended not to be bred
to each other except almost as a matter of accident. By 1955, after having
been in this country for 49 years and having produced literally thousands
of descendants, there were only about 25 horses left which were Davenport
in background without having crosses to some other kind of Arabian breeding.
most respects, the pedigrees of these horses were very similar. They traced
to about the same imported animals. There were close relationships in shared
parents and grandparents. Four were full brothers and sisters, and several
had half-sibling relationships. The general concensus among knowledgeable
Arabian breeders was that the bloodline was too scant as to numbers and
too inbred to still be a successful long-term breeding group.
there was so much that was attractive about the horses. They had such fine
skin, such big eyes, such a human orientation in attitude. Taking the descriptions
of the horses of Arabia as the old writers had written about them, these
were obviously the same kind of horse that people had gone to Arabia to
buy in the first place: a moderate-sized, athletic, beautiful horse that
still looked like the pictures of the horses that came from Arabia.
these were horses of a wonderful history. Their ancestors had been brought
from Arabia in an extraordinary importation that was possible only because
of joint support by the President of the United States and the Sultan of
the Ottoman Empire. They had been in this country almost since the beginning
of Arabian breeding here. They had contributed to the pedigrees of most
of the finest horses in American Arabian breeding, and they had produced
famous individual horses that everyone knew and admired: horses like Hanad,
Antez, and Letan. It seemed that this was a kind of horse that somehow
should be permitted to survive.
those days, nobody talked about such things as "investors" or
"marketing." there wasn't a national show, and most states didn't
even have state Arabian organizations. People just got horses they liked
and began, without worrying too much about the future.
the way renewal began with the Davenport's. In 1955 a program was started
at Craver Farms, Hillview, Illinois,
with the purchase of Tripoli (Hanad/Poka).
Before purchase, he had fallen on hard times, but, when his ability to
sire foals became apparent, Davenport mares were purchased to breed to
was not possible to just go out and buy mares like that in a lump. First
they had to be identified as alive through careful study of the stud books
and current Arabian literature. Then they were traced to ownership through
the Registry or other sources. Finally, owners would be contacted for purchase.
Prices were not great because horses did not cost much in those days, and
these were mostly mares that were older. It was not always easy to achieve
a purchase. Sometimes it was not possible. Nevertheless over the years
mares were acquired, and the few remaining stallions became available to
add to what had begun with Tripoli. Eventually, 16 horses were utilized
to form a "second foundation" of Davenport breeding.
number of owners took part in this effort. There was very little
competition as to who would purchase or work with a given mare or stallion.
The whole venture would have been impossible if there has not been a general
attitude among breeders of cooperation
and friendliness in working towards the goal of preserving the Davenport
Arabian horse. This attitude has persisted over the years, to the great
advantage of Davenport bloodlines.
Davenport breeding began in 1955, there was no long-range plan for how
it should be conducted. Only one stallion was available, and he was bred
to the mares. What a thrill it was when the noted scholar of Arabian breeding,
Carl Raswan, solicited the piture of one
of the earliest foals (Alaska, foaled in 1958; she was actually the second
produced, and is still living) to be run under the heading, "Lest
we forget, the authentic, the pure Arabian," in conjunction with
all-time greats of the breed: *Nasr, *Ibn Mahruss, Mahroussa, and Mesaoud.
Success such as this was thought to be enough of an achievement in strict
breeding in itself, but in time it became clear that there was a much larger
issue involved with the Davenports than the production of a few individuals
of unique breeding. The real problem was how this group of horses should
be saved on a long term basis: What would be the best way to breed these
few, inter-related individuals so as to preserve the maximum number of
their good qualities without adding other blood?
is a similar problem to that faced by breeders of any endangered genetic
group of animals. We frequently hear of it in conjunction with salvage
breeding programs at zoological insitiutions, where the effort is made
to preserve breeding groups of rare wild animals. Siberian tigers, California
condors, Alpine goats, Peregrine falcons, giant pandas, and cheetahs are
examples of animals where such breeding programs are in place. In the horse
world, a major effort is being made to preserve the Przewalski horse. Many
of these threatened breeding groups have the resources of the international
zoological community working on their behalf plus the further advantage
of starting from a broader genetic base than the tiny group of 16 with
which the Davenports started in 1955 or from what they have now at about
500 individuals of breeding potential.
Davenport breeders saw it, there were two possible ways of managing the
remaining Davenport horses for long-term survival. The first was to systematically
breed them for maximum hybrid vigor. This called for keeping inbreeding
levels as low as possible and working towards long-range pedigrees where
foundation and intermediate foundation animals tended to be in balance.
That is apparently the approach taken at most zoological institutions.
there is no question that it can be successful, but it has the disadvantage
that the "blend" of bloodlines it produces may cause desirable
individual features of foundation animals to be lost through dilution or
inadvertent adverse selection. If it had been followed with the Davenports
in 1955, practically all living Davenports would now be grey, muscular
Kuhaylan types with pricked ears
and great vitality. They would be fine horses but would represent only
a fraction of the genetic potential of Davenport bloodlines.
way of management which was instead chosen was to divide the foundation
breeding group along lines of difference which existed between its individuals
to produce even smaller breeding groups. Priority was then given to breeding
within these groups. This added major new restrictions to how Davenport
horses would be bred but it had the advantage of allowing individual traits
of animals and types within each group to have maximum opportunity for
expression. This way the danger that such traits would be diluted away
or covered up would be minimized. Actually, there was little long-term
danger to the approach chosen. As long as the animals were bred, their
blood would be preserved according to either plan. If the need arose, the
groups could always be merged, at a future time. But with the advantage
that their best characteristics would have been enhanced by selection.
the surviving Davenports were divided along the oldest concept in Arabian
pedigrees. This was the concept of family strain. Some of the earliest
records of Arabian pedigrees show that the bedouins of Arabia divided their
purebred horses into different families. The names of these families come
to us almost unchanged literally over hundreds of years of records. Prominent
among these are "Kuhaylan," "Saqlawi," "Abayyan,"
"Hadban," and "Mu'niqi." Family names are trasnsmitted
on the tail-female side of a pedigree, so that a duaghter is of the same
strain as her mother. According to the classic writers such as Lady
Anne Blunt and Carl Raswan, all "asil"
or purebred Arbians in Arabia had family names. Sometimes these designations
have been lost as the horses came from Arabia into countries with stud
books, but such names where known are still shown in some stud books, although
not in those of the Arabian Horse Registry after Vol IV, 1937, and its
is divided as to how much the family or strain name of an Arabian horse
means. Modern pedigrees are so long and complex that, for most Arabian
horses, strain designations may not mean much. The Davenports, however,
were still very close to the desert both as to generations of descent and
physical appearance in them that correlated with their family strains.
Accordingly, they were separated into a Kuhaylan group and a Saqlawi group,
and, where other practical considerations of breeding did not interfere,
Kuhaylan were mostly bred to Kuhaylan and Saqlawi primarily to Saqlawi.
Previously this had bend done from time to time with good results, but
result was very interesting. It turned out that the Kuhaylan Davenports
began to be more uniform with every generation of breeding within the Kuhaylan
strain and to look more like what authorities had written of as the classsic
prototype of the Kuhaylan Arabian horse. The same thing happened with the
Saqlawi: they became more and more uniform and more and more like the standards
of that strain. The changes were not merely apparent in one or two individuals
but obvious enough so that almost any informed visitor to the pasture of
Davenports could identify many of them by strain.
the initial division into Kuhaylan and Saqlawi breeding groups had proven
to be a success, a futher division of the Kuhaylan group was made according
to "substrain." In Arabia, the "substrain" of a horse
was an integral part of the identification. It served to identify the specific
branch within a major strain to which a horse belonged. There were two
substrains present among the Davenports of the Kuhaylan strain, deriving
from the original imported individuals. These substrains of the Kuhaylan
were the Haifi (written Kuhaylan-Haifi) and the Kurush (written Kuhaylan-Kurush).
The division of the Davenport Kuhaylans into these two groups turned out
to be very successful with excellent individuals being produced within
each group. There was no question that both groups were of overall Kuhaylan
type, but also none that they were different from each other and able to
breed on as separate families of horses.
A final division as to strain among Davenport horses has been made
in recent years when the tail-female descendants of a mare named *Hadba
of the 1906 importation have been bred to each other on strain principles.
*Hadba was of the Hadban-Inzihi strain. It appears that a group of Davenports
of this strain is now being put together even after all the years and generations
since the importation. Davenport breeding is the stronger for it.
present division of Davenport horses along strain lines approximately as
follows: 60 percent Kuhaylan-Haifi, 14 percent Kuhaylan-Kurush,
22 percent Saqlawi-Jidran, and 4 percent Hadban-Inzihi.
Where the total number of Davenport breeding individuals is in the neighborhood
of 500, it will be seen that the actual numbers of horses involved in the
major strains is considerable. A further point of interest is that in the
Davenports the practice of breeding so that strains of sire and dam are
similar is long standing. Some Daveport pedigrees show three and four generations
where all individuals are of the same stain. Pedigrees of this sort nearly
always result in animals which are an excellent demonstration of the powerful
effect of strain breeding in the Arabian horse.
Even as strain breeding was becoming established for Davenport horses,
it became apparent that there were other differences of pedigree in the
breeding stock which also shold be separated out. Some of these differences
seemed small. In the Kuhaylan-Haifi group there was a difference in animals
according to whether they traced to a mare named Fasal.
Fasal was a famous mare. She was of similar breeding to a number of the
other early Davenports but a breeding group could be set up according to
whether or not she was in pedigrees. Horses not tracing to Fasal were identified
as "non-Fasals." They were neither better nor worse than other
Davenports, but they seemed a little different. This has been a difficult
group to maintain. It has included some of the most successful Davenport
horses in re-establishing Davenport breeding and continuing it, but there
were several years when not enough replacement fillies were produced along
with the stud colts. In recent years the deficiency has been corrected,
and the group now has excellent prospects, although it numbers only about
4 percent of living Davenports.
a breeding group was established according to whether the stallion Tripoli
was present in a pedigree. Tripoli has been the most prominent stallion
of Davenport breeding beginning in 1955. He had the rare gift as a sire
of being succesful with mares of the whole range of Davenport breeding.
As a result, his blood is extremely strong in almost all Davenport horses.
There were a few from which it was absent, however, and from these it was
possible to set up a breeding group under the name "non-Tripoli."
This is a group which crosses strain lines: some in it are Kuhaylan, some
are Saqlawi. Two stallions of this group, Ibn Alamein and Regency CF, are
among the most influential of currently living Davenport stallions. Ultimately,
the non-Tripoli group may be of special value as an outcross for the Tripoli
influence. It makes up 5.5 percent of living Davenports.
divisions of Davenport breeding stock also exist on a quiet basis, and
they are maintained with a minimum of public attention. Among these are
a group based on the absence of the blood of the mare Dharebah, divisions
within the large Saqlawi breeding group in which the lines to Antan, Maedae,
Kamil Ibn Salan and Antarah are separated
from each other. Other groups are developing according to whether they
concentrate the blood of the mares Dhalana, Ceres, Dharebah
type of division which has hardly been approached is to set up breeding
groups based on the individuality of horses. It would be very practical
to orient Davenport breeding programs towards certain goals in type: the
dish face, color, the "Hanad"
type carriage of body, markedly pricked ears-these and others are characteristics
about which breeding can be organized with excellent results. They have
all been done successfully. It only remains to connect them with breeders
who have the room and resources to develop them. The rewards to such breeders
are great: To adopt one of these projects is an opportunity to do one's
own thing, while still taking part in a larger, worthwhile movement in
reward for Davenport breeding is great, too, because each one of these
successful and somewhat separate breeding efforts adds strength to the
overall bloodline. Something all groups have in common is that they come
from very similar parent stock. They trace to almost all the same desert
bred ancestry, usually through the same horses that were prominent in Davenport
breeding through the 1940's. A definite harmony exists between the inheritance
and appearance of these groups. With many of them, it is possible to interbreed
with benefit while still maintaining their parameters. For instance, both
the Saqlawi and Kuhaylan groups have been strengthened by occasional use
of stallions of the other strain.
along with continuation of the major divisions of Davenport breeding into
breeding groups, a final process of synthesis will probably occur in which
the various groups are brought together. At the point, breeders may find
that additional groupings of Davenport horses are emerging which build
on the successes of the older ones. We are likely to see horses in which
almost all of the foundation horses of 1906 and 1955 are blended but in
which some aspects of the blend are preferred by some breeders, other aspects
by other breeders. Arabian horse breeders would not be human if they did
not start with these variations to make something new and their very own.
The potential for new, creative subdivision is always present. As long
as there are new breeders with a love for the beauty and heritage of this
type of horse, there is no logical limit to its continuing development.
The source of foundation Davenport blood is reliable and self-renewing.
is the freedom that comes from the restrictions in Davenport breeding.
This little group of horses tracing to only 15 in 1906 and 15 in 1955 has
been subdivided and subdivided along increasingly narrow lines of breeding.
Of course, the process has not always been easy, but the result is that
the numbers and excellence of horses has grown and at the same time the
number of people supporting them has grown. Far from being a limit of activity,
the restrictions have been a source of success. A choice which Davenport
breeders constantly enjoy is as to which of the alternative restrictions
they should choose in order to make their horses still more what they want,
still more successful.
is only one caution, which applies to other Arabian breeding as it does
to the Davenports: the dividing of breeding group into its component parts
for separate developent of each is a powerful tool for the breeder. Where
it has not been used properly, it has historically caused major harmful
results, with the actual destruction of some bloodlines and the creation
of whole breeding groups which are apart from the best standards of historical
Arabian breeding. It is essential that this method of breeding be used
in conjunction with effective selection of individuals according to realistic,
historical standards for Arabian type. Considerations of size, proportion,
soundness, conformation, disposition,a dn type remain extremely important.
The pedigree cannot be successfully separated from the horse.
***footnote: The '24' accounts for the horses which
actually arrived in 1906. In addition, three were imported in utero, one
of which (*Moharra - no get) was shown as imported and two of which (Saleefy
and Meleky - both having important lines in Davenport breeding) were not.
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