The different blood groups Walter Schimanski has utilized over the years are like musical instruments and he was the composer. The Masada breeding program has produced some of the most beautiful solos, duets and trios in the past 30 years - Babson, Babson/Sirecho, Babson/Halima, Babson/Brown, Babson/Sirecho/Halima, Babson/Halima/Bukra to name a few. The Babson blood has been the instrument used most heavily in all Masada compositions. And Daal Aba, a gray straight Babson mare bred by the great breeder Mrs. G.D. Fox and foundation mare for Masada, has been the base note. Her legacy can be described as a living sonata, a work in progress. It is predominantly a sonata for solo Babson or duets of Babson/Halima. The first movement was completed with the death of Daal Aba. The second movement is also complete as all her progeny are deceased, or in the case of Masada Fay Halima, exported and lost. Production each year of vibrant new third movement variations continues through the mares Zahara Sabiya, the full sisters Masada Marana and Masada Bint Fabo, and G Maafada. Two stallions also remain, the beautiful bay *Tuhotmos son Masada El Rabdan and Masada Mataan, a handsome gray Fa Asar son with a spirit unable to accept the physical limitations resulting from a fetlock broken shortly after birth. The full range of diversity of the fourth movement to Daal Aba’s Sonata is only just beginning.
Many other important Sheykh Obeyd mares have passed through Masada over the years. Walter used them to compose great works of music, from simple sonatas to full blown symphonies. But Daal Aba was the first and her descendants still remain an essential part of the Masada program. If you are ever fortunate enough to meet Walter Schimanski, ask him to tell the story of the beginning, of how Daal Aba came to him. His eyes will sparkle while he thinks back over thirty years ago to when he first saw Daal Aba as a luscious young filly and knew immediately that she was the one. Then ask him about the day, about a year later, when Daal Aba finally arrived. The story goes that there was a celebration that day and all Walter’s friends had come over to see the unveiling of his Venus. He finally led everyone down to the paddock to see her and, well, Daal Aba was such a fright as a two year old that all his friends wanted to have him committed on the spot. They wanted to know what was the point of all those years of meticulous studying if the best he could come up with was this ‘sow’s ear’!
Daaldan, sire of Daal Aba.
In the twenty-four years she was with Walter Schimanski, Daal Aba became a swan. “Daal Aba was a wonderful old soul. She was the sweetest mare with the kindest, gentlest mind. Not a self centered bone in her body, despite her unbelievable beauty,” recalls close friend Karen Hayes. She produced one foal after another better than herself, the mark of a great broodmare, and left an incredible legacy. However, to truly appreciate the beauty produced by the Masada breeding program over the past 30 years one has to see the poetry of Daal Aba’s pedigree. Daal Aba was the daughter of a powerful 15.2 hand chestnut stallion named Daaldan, a Faddan (*Fadl x *Bint Saada) son out of Fay Dalla (a Fay-El-Dine daughter out of *Bint Bint Durra). Daal Aba was out of Fay El Aba, a Fay-el-Dine daughter out of Faaba, one the *Fadl x *Bint Bint Sabbah super mares. Daal Aba’s pedigree contained the essential building blocks Walter was looking for: tail-female to *Bint Bint Sabbah, a high percentage of *Bint Serra I blood through her son Fay-El-Dine (37.5%) and a high percentage of *Bint Saada blood through her son Faddan (25%).
There were many straight Babson’s to choose from in the late 60’s. Why did Walter choose Daal Aba? We know Walter had carefully studied pedigrees for years before making his first purchase so we can only conclude that he was a visionary from the start. Walter recognized that to continue breeding the Babsons as a closed group 30 or 40 years from then he needed to keep his future breeding options open. This meant staying away from Fa-Serr and Fabah blood as long as he could and this became an important compositional theme in Masada pedigrees. Walter saw that the direction of straight Babson breeding would eventually produce a bottle neck resulting from too many crosses to these two stallions, too much of a good thing, similar to the problem with Nazeer in new Egyptian pedigrees. Thus, he recognized that his breeding group would eventually become an “outcross” within straight Babson breeding, enabling the closed group to successfully remain so for years to come. The last living non-Fa-Serr/Fabah blooded Babson mare, the lovely bay Masada El Aba, died earlier this year. Another important compositional theme for Masada is using stallions whose pedigrees positioned the original Babson imports up close, thus returning to the original sources in as few generations as possible.
What was the objective of the Masada breeding program? Daal Aba’s pedigree is the Masada Rosetta stone. Some breeders have focused on creating the “perfect Arabian head”, or the “look at me” show attitude, or the “ideal tail carriage”. Walter wanted to bring back the endurance horse of the Bedouin; an ideal most of us will unfortunately only read about but never have the opportunity to truly know. Walter wanted first and foremost the old desert type Arabian with a ‘tent’ disposition. Combined with this calm and sensible personality was a requirement for superior athletic ability, which translates into straight strong legs with dense strong bone and short cannons, sloping shoulder angles, short strong backs, deep heart girths, a desert type croup with the tail set right on top, a perfect equilateral triangle between point of hip, stifle and buttock, good withers, elegant long necks rising from the shoulder, a long mitbah, connecting the head and neck, and a clean throat latch. Walter always felt getting a beautiful head and eye on the horse was the easy part, and the icing on the cake. (This is easy for Walter to say, since he managed to include this in the Masada package as well!) The key notes that Daal Aba’s pedigree possessed to produce this Bedouin endurance horse were the stallions Faddan and Fay-El-Dine, both Saqlawi Jidran Ibn Sudan in strain, combined with the proven endurance mares *Bint Bint Durra and *Bint Bint Sabbah, both Dahmah-Shahwaniyah in strain.
Fay El Aba, dam of Daal Aba.
Faddan was noted for excellent action and often appears close up in the pedigrees of successful endurance, park, and dressage winners. Unfortunately, very little Faddan blood remained within Sheykh Obeyd bloodlines so Walter concentrated his efforts over the years on compounding this element as much as he could. Miss Jane Ott remarked in her famous ‘Blue Catalog’ that Faddan was probably the best Babson stallion ever bred. Fay-El-Dine, a magnificent gray stallion, was the first born Sheykh Obeyd foal of both his famous parents, *Fadl and *Bint Serra I. Fay-El-Dine is also remarkable in that he is the sire of 10 producers of National winners from only 55 registered foals.
Preservation breeders nearly always list Fay-El-Dine, along with Faddan and Khebir, as the best Babson stallion produced. *Bint Bint Durra received commendation in The Arab Horse, May 1937: "Mr. Babson's *Bint Bint Durra, the mare class winner, a dark chestnut with straight hard legs, was of rare symmetrical proportions and strength, as well as grace of body...(Her) expression was that of the ideal Arab, gentle and generous, as if they would give all they had to a good master." Mr. Babson wrote: "*Bint Bint Durra is prepotent as a brood mare - outstanding under saddle in the hands of anyone." She only had 5 foals of which 2 stallions by *Fadl have no living Al Kkamsa descendants. Last, but certainly not least, is *Bint Bint Sabbah. *Bint Bint Sabbah distinguished herself in many endurance rides. It was written in The Arab Horse, May 1937: "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. George Cason was in the saddle." *Bint Bint Sabbah is dam of three producers of National winners. All but three of *Bint Bint Sabbah's 13 foals were sired by *Fadl. Those three were fillies sired by Fay-El-Dine. Two of those died without progeny, Fay Nefous and Fay Selma. The third was the infamous Fay Sabbah.
Why did Walter seek the blood of these four horses as the basic building blocks for his program? What was it that enabled this combination to produce the Masada look we all know and appreciate today? Of course breeding is not a science but there was a method to his madness. Faddan and Fay-El-Dine were both Saqlawi-Jidran in strain, but you can’t just paper breed. These two stallions also exemplified the Saqlawi type. *Bint Bint Durra and *Bint Bint Sabbah were both Dahmah-Shahwaniyah in strain and type. As Walter explains, incorporating the Saqlawi type brings length back to neck and leg, which can be lost with intense use of Dahman and Kuhaylan strain types. It also yields finer bone structure and produces flatter and less prominent muscling. Too much Saqlawi can produce a long back and ears. Dahman type brings back an overall balance and harmony, including more dished heads and larger eyes, and shorter backs, but also has the tendency to produce shorter necks and legs, heavier muscling, and more
bone. Walter has clearly taught the need to keep blending the Saqlawi and Dahman strains, and his method is to use Saqlawi type stallions on top and Dahmah mares on the bottom.
The first straight Egyptian stallion used at Masada was Saafaddan. Saafaddan was a rich mahogany bay straight Babson, Dahman-Shahwan in strain, but with many Saqlawi characteristics. He was bred by another great breeder, Mrs. J.E. Ott, and was purchased from Bob Cowling. Saafaddan was by Faddan and out of Saaba. “He was magic when he moved, just like his sire,” recalls Walter. “When Saafaddan put on a show, it would take your breath away. He was not tall, not especially leggy, but perfectly balanced with an elegant neck that could move like a cobra. He could have had a better eye (no horse is perfect after all) but what a wonderful angle to the croup and hip, and he moved like no other horse: elastic, elevated and with unbelievable suspension.” Walter always describes Saafaddan as “very much the teenager all his life”. Walter recalls that Saafaddan had a typical loving, tractable, gentle Babson disposition except when it came to his rival Lothar. “Saafaddan used to spend a good deal of his time tearing down the fences between the stallion paddocks to decimate Lothar. Strange to tell though, nothing bloody ever came to pass of their mixing. This was probably because Lothar very sensibly decided to retreat into his stall and ‘leave the field’ to Saafaddan for grazing. Fundamentally, Saafaddan was all show and didn’t have a mean bone in his body.”
First glance suggests that breeding Saafaddan to Daal Aba followed the Bedouin formula: “Let the sire of the sire be the grandsire of the dam.” This careless application of ab uno disco omnes (from one example learn all) traps most of us into the faulty generalization that this Bedouin breeding adage is sufficient. To end the study of Daal Aba’s pedigree there is to miss the sheer brilliance of this breeding and really learn from it. The beauty is fully appreciated only by realizing that Saaba was a Fay-el-Dine daughter out of Fa-Habba (*Fadl x *Bint Bint Sabbah) and thus a full-blooded sister to Daal Aba’s dam Fay El Aba. Breeding Daal Aba to Saafaddan yielded foals with 37.5% Faddan blood and 31.25% Fay-El-Dine blood. Walter repeated this breeding 4 times before Saafaddan’s untimely death in 1976. After an eight-year wait, the first foal born was in 1972, a bay filly named Masada Saadurra, and she marked the beginning of the Masada program. “She died later that year, around 5 months old, from a bad liver,” remembers Walter. “I just sat there, holding her head in my lap, stroking her gently and crying. An hour after she died I still sat there holding her, completely numb and of course still crying, wondering if I had wasted eight long years of my life. I finally got up and walked out to the mailbox, ready to give up my breeding program before it ever started. I pulled out the mail and there was a letter from Mr. Babson’s daughter, Elizabeth Tieken, whom I had never met. She had written to tell me that she had read an article I had written and that her father would have loved to know me. In ten seconds my doubts vanished and I knew I would repeat the breeding of Daal Aba to Saafaddan.” The breeding was repeated and the following year, 1973, produced the bay mare Masada Serrasaada. In 1974, the bay mare Masada El Aba was born, and in 1976 the gray stallion Ibn Saafaddan. That fall, Saafaddan had a bad case of colic that required surgery. He never fully recovered. A few months later, in the midst of a terrible Illinois winter storm, Saafaddan coliced again. “Poor sweet Saafaddan was in agony,” recalls close friend Don Austin. “ The vet couldn’t come so Walter headed out to get medicine. While he was gone, Saafaddan died.”
In 1970, a big 14.1 hand roan stallion named Lothar became the first Sheykh Obeyd stallion to come to Masada, although he was not used in the program until later. “Walter got Lothar because he just couldn’t resist his wonderful type and nature,” recalls Don Austin. Mrs. J.E. Ott also bred Lothar. He was born in 1955, the year his sire *Fadl died. His dam was Habba, one of the *Fadl x *Bint Bint Sabbah super daughters. Thus, original Babson imports from 1932 comprised the parent and grandparents of a stallion alive in 1973. Walter couldn’t get much closer to the original source than that. Habba presented an opportunity to incorporate the blood of another full sister to Daal Aba’s grand-dam, thereby helping to fix type and preserve genetic diversity. Lothar also had a proven endurance record: Linda Tellington-Jones had ridden him on the endurance circuit along with the famed Sheykh Obeyd mare Bint Gulida. (As an aside, it was there that Lothar mesmerized a young girl named Susan Mayo who helped condition Linda Tellington’s horses. Years later, Susan got “Tucky”, Masada El Rabdan, from Walter, a grandson of Lothar.) I once asked Walter if he was ever concerned about Lothar’s small size. The playful response was: “Lothar was perfect. He wasn’t really, but you must always tell me you think he was because he is my all time favorite horse. He had everything an Arabian should have, to my way of thinking. For those who have never had the chance to see Lothar in the flesh, it is hard, perhaps, to imagine his Arabian type, flash, and fire in combination with the most gentle and tractable temperament. So Arabian he slept with his tail up, so gentle he weaned the foals in his own paddock. That was Lo.”
Lothar sired two foals by Daal Aba, Masada Habbah in 1975 and Masada Dahmah in 1977. This breeding took a twist on the Bedouin adage and instead reads, “The dam of the sire is a full blooded sister to the dam’s grand-dam.” Those who saw Masada Habbah have remarked she may have been the most beautiful mare Walter ever bred. In 1977 Lothar also sired the bay mare Masada Saaba out of the Saafaddan daughter Masada Serrasaada. The following year, 1978, he sired Masada Saafa out of another Saafaddan daughter, Masada El Aba. That same year, John and Elizabeth Fippen’s straight Babson mare, Shar Sabbah, produced the bay stallion Ibn Lothar, who is still alive.
In the spring of 1977, following Saafaddan’s death, Walter leased the straight Babson Saqlawi Jidran stallion Serr Khe from Bob Cowling. Serr Khe was a Fa-Serr son out of Khedena, a daughter of the fabulous stallion Khebir out of Fa Deene, full sister to Fay-El-Dine and Fa-Serr. However, it was largely a missed opportunity. Walter was unable to get Daal Aba in foal to him. “Daal Aba had always been an easy breeder until that year,” recalls Don Austin. “Daal Aba was a problem breeder when I met her as a veterinarian in 1984,” recalls Karen Hayes. “Her uterus was chock full of lymphatic lacunae, which are like fluid-filled blisters in the uterus and believed to occur as a response to inflammation. It could have been caused by a prior infection, perhaps from a contaminated foaling or an overzealous hand invading the raw tissues in an attempt to “clean” out the placenta after foaling. It really is hard to say. We did get her to settle twice, Fabo the sire, but she quickly resorbed.”
Walter was still in need of a stallion to replace Saafaddan, and so Fabo, at age 15, was purchased in 1977 with Don Austin, from Mr. B.C. Huss who had used him as a backyard stallion. “Fabo also had a chestnut full brother named Fa Simbah,” recounts Don. “The Huss’ didn’t want to spend the extra $5 it cost to register the foal as a purebred Arabian, so they registered him as an half-Arabian. He was gelded and had a very successful show career.” Fabo was a 7/8 brother to Sabrah, dam of four National winners. He was also the sire of Legion of Merit winners Fa Lodi and Fa Rambo. Fabo was selected in order to intensify the Saqlawi part of the breeding program. Fabo not only brought new personality to the farm, but he also added a big eye, more leg, and beautiful shoulders and necks. Using Fabo, however, meant incorporating Fabah and Fa-Serr blood sooner than Walter had hoped, since Fabo was a Fabah son and his dam, Misimma, was by Fa-Serr. “Misimma was the real reason Walter pursued Fabo. She was truly wonderful,” recalls Don Austin. Misimma’s dam, Fay Khedena, was a Fay-El-Dine daughter out of Khedena. Khedena was a Khebir daughter (Fadl x *Bint Bint Sabbah) out of Fa Deene, a full sister to Fay-el-Dine and Fa-Serr. Fa Deene was like Fay-el-Dine in type, taking after her dam line while Fa-Serr was more like *Fadl. The strengths that Fabo brought to Masada in pedigree and conformation far outweighed the negatives, but the intention was still to keep the amount of Fabah and Fa-Serr to a minimum, leaving future breeding options open. “Later that year, in 1977, Walter and I moved to Arkansas with Fabo,” tells Don Austin. Fabo’s first foal for Masada was in 1978, the bay mare Masada Fa Saada, out of Masada Serrasaada. (The filly was sold but tragically struck by lightening and killed two years later).
Candy Cohn moved to Arkansas in 1978, bringing with her the wonderful stallion Fleet-Foot and an opportunity to incorporate more Khebir blood into the Masada program. Fleet-Foot was a Khebir son and out of the beautiful Fay-El-Dine daughter Nadra, daughter of Fa Saana (another *Fadl x *Bint Bint Sabbah super daughter). That year Walter tried breeding Masada Serrasaada to Fleet-Foot but she did not settle. Fleet-Foot died in 1981 at the age of 29. Fleet-Foot did sire several straight Babson Sheykh Obeyd foals for Candy by Khezera (an Ibn Faddan daughter out of Aradan, full sister to Fleet-Foot).