Reading Raswan

AN ANALYSIS of Arabian Pedigrees
by Carl R. Raswan
from The Western Horseman May/June 1944
also appeared in "A Collection of Articles by Carl Raswan"

EDITOR'S NOTE: Mr Raswan has just completed a trip through western and midwestern states, visiting Arabian stud farms and photographing some of the outstanding Arabian stallions, mares and foals. The pictures with this article were taken by Mr. Raswan during his trip. Others taken during the tour will be used in connection with future Raswan articles.

Sartez, son of Antez, out of Saraf. Sartez,
like the famous Rasim, has seven Kuhaylan
and seven Saqlawi great-grand-parents,
a perfect blend of strength and beauty.

MANY INQUIRIES FROM READERS of THE WESTERN HORSEMAN have made me recognize certain problems which owners of Arabian (or part-bred Arabian) horses face under present conditions, and made me consider what practical steps might be taken to solve such problems. Taken generally, my friends have communicated this much to me, if I may formulate the substance of their letters into one paragraph:

"It is very interesting to read your articles, most revealing and original as so little is known on the subject of Arabian horse breeding. You have disclosed to us the strains and what they stand for and how they have influenced the size and weight, the angular or rounded shape, conformation in general and distinguishing marks (and thus the type) as well as the temperament (disposition) of our Arabians and part-Arabians. You have given us the strain-charts (see Page 11, July-August, 1941) and the key to the relationship of these strains (Page 15, July-August, 1943). Your many photos of registered Arabians are not uniform in type, but quite different in appearance, according to the strains (or mixture of strains) to which they belong. But tell me--to which strain or type should my mixed Arabian mare be bred? Which stallion do you suggest? My mare seems to be everything, from Ishmael's angel horse to the prophet's own favorite filly, and then some fifteen other strains to boot...."

Usually a photograph or two accompany these letters, a picture of the horse in question, without the name of the animal. My answer to most of these perplexing inquiries is to counter with a query of my own. that is, I ask: "What is your mare's name or registration number?"

The grey mare, Selfra, is seven-eights Kuhaylan, one-eighth Saqlawi. The chestnut mare, Saraf, is the mother of the colt, Sartez, also pictured at the head of this article. Saraf is fully three generations Kuhaylan and (like Selfra) five generations removed from Muniqi.

If we know this, we can ascertain in a few minutes the substance of the horse's pedigree, and thus picture her conformation and general appearance (including her Arabian characteristics, or lack of them), because the (color) pattern of the stains in her pedigree is an image of her physical self. (Use blue for Kuhaylan and Kuhaylan-related strains. Red for Saqlawi and Saqlawi-related strains. Brown for Muniqi and Muniqi-related strains. For more details see Pages 14 and 15 in July-August, 1943.)

Raffles is overwhelmingly Kuhaylan. Among his 14 great grandparents are eleven Kuhaylan and three Saqlawi. The sire of Indraff and Rafaia (shown at upper right of this page), Raffles is pictured here with his 1944 winter coat and after rolling in the mud of his stallion-run. He is the kind of tough little horse that has a personality appealing to every horse lover.

We find many mixed pedigrees in which the three colors are equally represented (no single one of the three colors stands out conspicuously above the other two). In such a case the blue and red bloodlines (strains) have to be added together. Thus blue and red combined outnumber the brown color scheme in our pedigree. A mare representing such a pedigree, in which the two CLASSIC types outweigh the Muniqi (the angular type), should be bred to a stallion with as little brown (Muniqi, or Muniqi-related strain) as possible -- and by all means should not have any trace of Muniqi within the first three generations. If the mare is a registered Muniqiyah (Muniqiyah on the dam's side), but has otherwise overwhelmingly blue and red bloodlines, she should be mated to a Muniqi stallion stallion who is equally rich in Kuhaylan (blue) and Saqlawi (red) strains; she should not be mated to a pure Kuhaylan or Saqlawi stallion. A "match" is always better (than a contrast), because a certain "balance" (harmony) of bloodlines (strains) will be established.
The old studbooks of the Arabian Horse Club of America and of the Arab Society of England, as well as Wheatherby and the Jockey club registrations, left us the answer to our questions as to which strains (on sire's and dam's side) Arabian horses in America and England belong, though their offspring may not have been registered any longer as to their strain descent in the latest studbooks.

Rafaia is a daughter of Raffles and a sister of Indraff (below). She is five generations removed from Muniqi and for the third generation entirely of Kuhaylan ancestry.

Indraff, son of Raffles, is out of Indaia. He and his sister, Rafaia, have among their 30 great-great-grandparents, 25 Kuhaylan nd(sic) five Saqlawi (no Muniqi). Both are five generations removed from Muniqi and (like Saraf) have been bred for the third generation within the Kuhaylan. Each has only one Muniqi among 254 ancestors. Note the remarkable resemblance of Indraff, Rafaia and Saraf, indicating the advantage of breeding within the same (or related) strain to produce a distinctive type of Arabian.

The most important ancestors of any Arabian horse (as far as those powerful tendencies are concerned which transmit good qualities and faults as well) are the eight great grandparents. They hold the "key" to the size, weight, shape, conformation, type, Arabian characteristics, and temperament of our horse. These eight ancestors are still within that focal-point where influence of pure (or related) bloodlines (strains) count most. When we go beyond to the fourth, fifth, or sixth generation, the original bloodlines are usually so "thinned" out and so diffused, that they become distant "constellations" (as the Bedouins call them) and are not so impressive and influential anymore upon the picture which we behold in the mosaic-like design formed by the various colors of the different strains in a pedigree.

Diffusion in a pedigree increases as follows:

1st generation 2 = 1 sire and 1 dam (total ancestors 2)

2nd generation 4 = 2 grandsires and 2 grand dams (total ancestors 6)

3rd generation 8 = 4 great-grand sires and 4 great-grand dams (total ancestors 14). These eight great-grandparents wield the greatest influence. They have to be pure (or related) in strain to produce an outstanding great-grandson or great-grand-daughters.

4th generation 16 = 8 Great-great grand sires and 8 great-great-grand dams (total ancestors 30)

5th generation 32 = 16 great-great-great-grand sires and 16 great-great-great-grand dams (total ancestors 62)

6th generation 64 = 32 great-great-great-great-grand sires and 32 great-great-great-great-grand dams (total ancestors 126)

Pedigrees are mathematical "problems," but not difficult to analyze. We should realize, however, that the purer we breed the more simplified becomes our task, and the stronger, more beautiful, more distinctive, and in every respect more perfect and harmonious the result (in our case the Arabian offspring).

Nature still designs and creates in her own way with the aid of laws which we have incorporate into our sciences of space and number and have applied to physical research (and thus to animal husbandry too!). We have found that no human hand or mind can alter these perfect rules--rules which work "mysteriously" also within the strains or bloodlines of a pedigree (and thus in what this pedigree represents to us: a horse). We may apply these unseen, but controlling (and therefore reliable) powers and use them either for benefit or for loss to ourselves. We may abuse them, and produce not only inferior creatures, but freaks and mongrels. We may also recognize our own (or somebody else's) mistakes and by retracing steps patiently and faithfully within these mathematical laws and within the order (harmony) of a particular pattern (in our case it would be Arabian strain-breeding) reach again the well balanced perfection of "The Original."

Analysing the pedigree of an Arabian horse we should ask the following questions:

1. To which strain (colors) do the eight great-grand parents of your horse belong?

2. which strain (color) is overwhelmingly present? If none is predominant, add the blue and red together and find out how much they outweigh the brown (Muniqi).

3. What strain is the dam? She gives size and frame to her offspring, but if a Muniqiyah and the other seven great-grandparents are Kuhaylan or Saqlawi, she does not transmit the angular outlines of body and drooping hind quarters. In such a case the Muniqiyah mare produces a taller Arabian with more bone, though lacking the extremely Arabian head and some of the elegant tail carriage.

4. How close appears the first Muniqi? Any Muniqi appearing within the first three generations (total 14 ancestors) still influences the offspring. If not more than one Muniqi appears in four generations (--30 ancestors), the Muniqi influence is practically out. Any additional Muniqi among the first 30 (direct) ancestors adds length and coarseness (plain features) to body and head (small eyes, narrowness between jowls; long, straight profile of face). In the sixth generation (126 ancestors) the total number of Muniqi, which have practically no influence then, should not exceed six.

5. Are the first 30 (direct) ancestors (== four generations) of mixed strains, but without any Muniqi? The result will be a very harmonious, well balanced horse with a fine type (Arabian) head and good tail carriage. More muscle and power if Kuhaylan predominates; more graceful (slender) lines if Saqlawi.

Famous Arabians





1. Hazzam 1/8 7/8 typical Saqlawi (beauty) type.
2. Berk 1/8 7/8 (same)
3. (IBN) Mahrouss 1/8 7/8 (Same)
4. Abu Zeyd 2/8 6/8 Typical Saqlawi, though registered Kuhaylan
5. Antez 3/8 5/8 Kuhaylan-Saqlawi blend, with Saqlawi predominating
6. Rasim 4/8 4/8 Perfect Kuhaylan-Saqlawi blend (both classic types) same as Sartez in this issue.
7. Nasik 4/8 4/8 Same (perfect blend of strength and beauty).
8. Rifnas 5/8 3/8 Same, but Kuhaylan begins to predominate.
9. Rabiyas 6/8 2/8 Kuhaylan definitely predominates.
10. Ronek 7/8 1/8 Kuhaylan almost perfect, though a registered Saqlawi.
11. Indraff 8/8 Kuhaylan type regained (see photo in this issue).
Mrs Carl Raswan: Latest Editions Of
The Arab And His Horse and The Raswan Index

Chariot Farms

Davenports: Articles of History

CMK Pages

The Heirloom Pages

The Pasha Institute

Al Khamsa, Inc.

Arabian Visions'





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