While their impact has been tremendous, Sheykh Obeyd Arabians are now dangerously close to being lost. The current breeding population is estimated to be at approximately 1,000 individuals world wide, qualifying this as an endangered group according to criteria established by The American Livestock Breeds Conservancy. However, the significance of this genepool does not lie solely in its rare status, but also in the particularly stellar character which these horses have exhibited throughout history. They are the only living animals who descend entirely from those Arabians who captured the hearts and confidence of the 7 foundation breeders of Egypt over a century ago. Does this imply that Sheykh Obeyd Arabians are purer than non-Sheykh Obeyd pure desert bred Arabians? No. The unique value in the Sheykh Obeyd Arabian lies in the nature of his specific heritage -- providing the modern breeder with an extraordinarily concentrated, undiluted genetic resource for some of the most prized Arabian blood which has ever existed. Why is this important? Scientific study indicates that every cell in the body has a memory of sorts, a collection of inherent “instincts” which are transmitted along with the DNA material of preceding generations. While it was the environment of a rugged desert existence which honed the character of the Bedouin bred horse, it is not necessarily true that such character will be lost when the original environment ceases to exist. As clearly demonstrated in closely bred canine breeds, animals who have been subject to very tight breeding over countless generations have inherited the exclusive “memories” of their ancestral experiences. Within the Sheykh Obeyd Arabian horse, the cellular memories of a desert existence have been transmitted and duplicated through every line of inheritance into every cell in his body. In addition, the impact of specific selection and qualification in Egypt by strict disciples of the Bedouin breeding philosophies, multiplied many times over through only 66 root horses, is notable.
The Passing Of The Torch
The original Sheykh Obeyd Foundation, created in 1987, has been expanded to respond to the ever shrinking world we live in. Soundly rooted in the tenets of SOF, Sheykh Obeyd Foundation International (SOFI), seeks to insure the continued survival of these precious bloodlines as an intact subgroup of pure desert bred Arabian horses. Once again, like-minded breeders have heard the call and have answered. Through the advent of instant, global communication, far greater education is now possible than it was in the past. As a result, Sheykh Obeyd breeders currently exist in many countries around the world, a wonderful testimony to the efforts of the original founders of SOF. The ultimate legacy of SOFI, however, must not be merely the continued survival of a few rare horses existing in isolation, but rather in the perpetual infusion of outstanding, concentrated Arabian character into the breeding population at large. SOFI actively seeks to reach out across all divides, uniting breeders in one purpose — to improve the Arabian breed and insure its survival into the future in its finest form.
Today, we lament the loss of the original Arabian qualities, both physical and spiritual, which have inspired artists and poets for centuries and obsessed the souls of princes and paupers alike — lost to the folly of fad and passing fashion. Every new generation of Sheykh Obeyd foals is a gift to the future, for these are the descendants of your beloved Arabians most cherished ancestors. Throughout time, they have been the tent horses of the desert, the lords of the show ring, the masters of the breeding barn -- and the captors of our hearts. They bring forth the essence of all that an Arabian Horse must be, today and tomorrow and always.