HOOF BEATS ON MY HEART
The Sheykh Obeyd Performance Horse
By Ralph Suarez, November 20, 2001
"I don't know what it is, or rather, I don't know how to put into words that indescribable air of distinction which marks the horses and mares of Ali Pasha Sherif's, or rather I would say of Abbas Pasha breeds…So it is, however, the movement one sees other horses beside them - when moving one sees the style of the Abbas Pasha collection." Are the words that Lady Anne Blunt used to describe the horses she saw and later bought in Egypt, after founding the Crabbet Arabian Stud in the late 1800's.
After traveling the deserts of the Arabian Peninsula and purchasing horses from the Anazeh, amongst other Bedouin tribes, the superiority of the Abbas Pasha/Ali Pasha Sherif bred horses was admired by the Blunts and incorporated into Crabbet Park. Their daughter, Judith Blunt (Lady Wentworth) loved to recount the merits of horses like Mesaoud, who by 1938, had over 100 champion descendants including 2 world champions, 5 long distance race winners, and winners of many races overseas. He was a celebrated Sheykh Obeyd horse!
The Arabian Horses of Egypt have a long and unprecedented history of strength, courage, and physical might. Without these horses, much of recorded history would not have been the same. In the time period before Christ, the Pharaohs and particularly during the reign of Thutmose, armies mounted on Egyptian horses, drove out invading armies like the Hyksos and the Hittites, established empires, helping Egyptian civilization to prevail into Palestine and Syria, extending as far as the Euphrates. King Solomon, enamored with the horse of Egypt, had a celebrated stud of horses, which led his chronicler, to record: "These horses also were much exercised in order to their making a fine appearance, and running swiftly, that no other could upon the comparison appear either finer or swifter, but they are at once the most beautiful of all others, and their swiftness was incomparable also."
The use of the Arabian Horse as a warhorse flourished throughout these times and far into the future, giving prowess to the Mamelukes who dominated much of the Middle East, including Egypt, from mid 800 AD to 1800 AD. Superb horseman, their skills were made even more overwhelming, a direct result of the superior athletic abilities inherent in their horses. Their ability to train horses for battle, to squeeze out of their horses the ultimate responsiveness, leaving their hands free for the use of weapons made them more formidable warriors, than they ever could be on foot. Without the intelligence, the endurance, the confidence that comes from courage, the tractability of their temperament, much of the world would not have recognized and thereby record, the superb horsemanship skills of these Mameluke warriors.
It would only be natural that the very qualities that made the Egyptian Horse a formidable warhorse, would also make him a horse well suited for sport. From the times of Mohammed Ali the Great to the present, the Egyptian Arabian Horse is favored as an endurance mount and also as a racehorse. The Sheykh Obeyd bloodlines have been especially influential within the blood of Egyptian Arabian Horses. While this article is not an exhaustive study of racing bloodlines, the athletic ability of the Sheykh Obeyd Arabian as a racehorse is significant and the records of the following horses reflect the superior athletic capabilities of these bloodlines. Aiglon, the sire of *Exochorda, raced from 1914 to 1921, a total of 41 races, winning 6 and retiring sound. Ibn Rabdan (Rabdan x Bint Gamila) in 1919 ran 16 races, wining 4 times. Nabras raced in 1924 until 1929, running in 14 races, winning 6. He sired Komeira, out of Layla, a swift running mare that raced 17 times, winning 3 of those races. *Nasr (Rabdan x Bint Yamama) ran 12 races from 1923 through 1924, winning 2 of them. His son out of Bint Obeya, Ibn Manial, raced 3 times in 1933 and won one of the races. Nazeer (Mansour x Bint Samiha) raced from 1937 to 1939, a total of 20 races, winning 3 of them. Alaa El Din (Nazeer x Kateefa) ran 6 races in the 1960-61 race season winning 1 race. Ibn Bukra (Nazeer x Bukra) ran 12 races in 1961 and won three. Talal (Nazeer x Zaafarana), racing under the name "Goni Boy" ran 44 races from 1960 through 1964 winning 6 races. However, the most famous Sheykh Obeyd racehorse of all time, Balance (Ibn Samhan x Farida), ran from 1932 until 1934, a total of 17 races and winning 14 times! In the races that he lost, he placed second twice and third. Balance also sired Amlam, out of the racing mare Komeira, who raced from 1949 until 1952, a total of 5 races, winning 3 of them, and like his father, in the races that he lost, he placed second and third.
The ability of the Sheykh Obeyd horse to gallop and endure over long distances was developed over time, proven on the battlefield and tested on the racetrack. Ultimately, these abilities would prove useful in the sport of endurance racing, where horses are challenged both physically and mentally. Sheykh Obeyd horses, when given the opportunity to participate, have successfully met the challenges. *Fadl and *Bint Bint Sabbah, both sired by Ibn Rabdan and out of Mahroussa, participated in 100 mile rides, with the mare, journalized for her achievements in May of 1937 in The Arab Horse. The following was written about her: "The third prize winner, the Arab mare, *Bint Bint Sabbah emerged a heroine. Weighing little more than 800 pounds, she carried 189 pounds, finishing the half distance in 1 hour 16 minutes in the mud, and walking the second lap so as not to finish ahead of the 3-hour minimum. Her head and tail were always up and she never took a deep breath." *Bint Bint Durra (Ibn Rabdan x Bint Durra) also competed in endurance, finishing the Vermont trail ride in perfect condition. One of the most famous endurance horses was a Doyle bred mare, the 1956 mare Bint Gulida (Ghadaf x Gulida). She went on to establish an endurance dynasty of her own, producing Cougar Rock. Another successful Doyle bred horse is Blarney (Ibn Gulida x Bint Ghadaf), the 1980 US Top Ten Purebred Endurance Arabian.
Lothar (*Fadl x Habba) and Saafaddan (Faddan x Saaba), both under the capable hands of Linda Tellington-Jones, were top endurance winners, before becoming herd sires for Walter Schimanski. Drkumo RSI (Dymoniet RSI x Kumoniet RSI) is a contemporary endurance champion, having won the 1996 AERC National Jim Jones Stallion Award, the 1997 AERC Top Ten Jim Jones Award, and the 1997 Pioneer Award Winner for heavyweight rider.
In America, we have taken the harsh conditions that have fashioned the Sheykh Obeyd Horse into an ultimate warhorse, racehorse, and endurance mount and crafted these qualities to create a show horse supreme. No show horse list would be complete without first mentioning the most famous Sheykh Obeyd Dressage horse of all time, Serr Maariner (Ibn Fa Serr x Maarena). This horse was successful at a period of time, when Dressage was not one of the largest growing disciplines in the IAHA and when Arabian Horses were exceedingly rare in the open divisions. A United States National Champion in Second, Third, Fourth Level, and the first Arabian ever to win a USDF Gold Medal (for which he won at one of the highest levels, Prix St George). He was also the USDF horse of the year, the AHSA/Insilico region 2 Horse of the year, and the Eastern States Dressage Champion for second and third level. Another successful dressage horse, Ibn Sabbah Bedu+ (Serabaar x Shar Sabbah), is a 2001 Scottsdale Prix St. Georges Reserve Champion and 1997 US National Top Ten Winner in Second and Third level. In 1998 Sabbah was the Region VII Reserve Champion at Third Level and the Purebred Working Hunter Champion in Scottsdale. Although not shown, *Rashad Ibn Nazeer was schooled in dressage by Colonel Hans Handler, a former director of the Spanish Riding School.
The show ring wins of many Sheykh Obeyd horses are numerous. In the 1950's, the beautiful show mare, El Maar (Fay el Dine x Maaroufa) dominated the show rings with her type and balance. Fabah (Fadl x *Bint Bint Sabbah) met with tremendous success in the show ring and passed on his performance abilities to his son, Hadbah, out of Fa Deene, who won many championships for his owners, Anchor Hill Farm. The Hadbah son, out of Silima, Anchor Hill Halim was a successful multi-champion stallion in Germany, and a winning endurance horse. The 60's and 70's ushered in an Egyptian explosion in the United States, as the ethereal beauty of the imported Egyptian horses captivated people. As these horses made their way into the show ring, the horses of Sheykh Obeyd bloodlines were among the stars. One of the most successful Sheykh Obeyd performance show mares was the lovely and talented *Bint Maisa El Saghira, not only a top ten halter winner in 1965 but also in the same year, scored top ten wins in English Pleasure and Park. In 1968, the talented Sirecho son, Joramir, out of Fad Roufa, won a National Top Ten in English Pleasure and Native Costume, the crowning achievements to a career that included 20 Class A championships in halter and performance. The gray Babson stallion, Roufas (Fa Serr x Aaroufa) was a 1974 Reserve National Champion English Pleasure Champion and also a top ten winner in Park and Formal Driving. As a matter of fact, Bentwood Farms took the Babson mares Maarena, Roufah, Aarouser, Ahroufa, and Bint Aaroufa and successfully campaigned these mares to championship wins. Bint Aaroufa, the most successful performance mare of the group, went Top Ten Park. *Ansata Ibn Halima, the beautiful Nazeer son out of Halima, imported by Ansata Arabian Stud, was the winner of many championships in Park and English Pleasure, in addition to his National Halter top tens. *Ansata Ibn Halima is the only Sheykh Obeyd stallion to sire both a National Champion stallion, mare and 14 other national winners. His beautiful daughter out of Sabrah, Fa Halima, inherited her father's good looks and even disposition and used these qualities to win 1980 US National Champion Mare, in addition to Reserve Champion wins in Canada and at the Salon Du Cheval in Paris.
The *Ansata Ibn Halima son out of Allah Ateyyah, Ra'adin Inshalla, was also a frequent English Pleasure champion like his father, in addition to his halter wins. *Moftakhar (Enzahi x Kateefa) a successful racehorse in Egypt, was imported to America, and was shown to multiple championships in Native Costume, English Pleasure, Western Pleasure, and Driving. Owned by Gleannloch Farms, his beauty changed the course of breeding and inspired Gleannloch to import horses, which would play a significant role in the development of Egyptian breeding, including 19 Sheykh Obeyd horses. The mare *Dawlat (Antar x Shahrzada) was one of these 19 horses and was an English Pleasure champion and the dam of the successful racehorse, Asjah Ibn Faleh. Unfortunately, her blood is no longer available in Sheykh Obeyd. *Talal, a proven racehorse in Egypt came to America and started a new career as a premier show horse, winning Scottsdale Reserve Champion Stallion and US National Top Ten Stallion.
In many backyards, in many a quiet barn, resides a horse of Sheykh Obeyd bloodlines that does not win ribbons, trophies, or National titles. Always a beautiful horse, the Sheykh Obeyd horse waits patiently for his owner, his friend, his companion. This is the horse that meets any challenges that his owner encounters on an impromptu ride through field or forest. This is the horse that can courageously take a three or four foot jump, cross through any amount of water, attend a weekly riding lesson with his owner, who only wishes to improve her seat and ride her horse better, in the quiet moments of her life. This Sheykh Obeyd horse becomes increasingly important in a world of deadlines, budget cutbacks, missed school buses, orthodontic appointments, overtime and frequent grocery trips. This is the confidante that knows well the salt in our tears and the fast beat of a heart that is hidden within a laugh. This is the consoling friend who welcomes his owner with a nicker of recognition and rests his head on the shoulder of a friend, at a time when it is needed most. This is the companion that helps us to manage our lives better in an unreasonable world. And this is the trusted friend that day in and day out, is the hero of our lives.
Whatever your discipline, whatever your choice for pleasure on the back of a horse, there is an athletic Sheykh Obeyd horse waiting for you! Whether you value speed, courage, agility, kindness, intelligence, consistency….or just a companion that you can trust and depend on, you will find these qualities wrapped in the utter and absolute beauty of a Sheykh Obeyd Horse.