The Part Davenport Arabians: The Pride of American Breeding

By Carol Lyons, copyright 1988
Used by permission of Carol Lyons
Arabian Visions May 1988
all rights reserved

Chances are that your own Arabians trace to several of the Davenport imports — unless you have a specialized “foreign” breeding program such as pure Polish, straight Egyptian or Spanish. These Davenport ancestors are the special and distinguishing ingredient in American pedigrees that make our Arabians the best in the world!

In 1980 and again in 1984, Jeanne Craver did a random sampling survey of the current stud books and determined that approximately 85 percent to 90 percent of foals with at least one parent born in the USA trace to Davenport bloodlines at an average level of about 12 percent. It is not just the small, backyard breeders that have utilized part Davenports as foundation animals. Part Davenport Arabians are also cleaning up at the shows, and as leading sires and champion producing broodmares. In 1984, the Arabian Horse World did a study of the horses winning the 225 Champion and Reserve Champion and Top Ten awards in both Halter and Performance classes at the 1983 National Championship show. That survey also analyzed the pedigrees of the “leading sire” list. Using only those horses that had at least one parent bred in the United States, their survey showed that 88 percent of the show winners traced to Davenport lines, while 86 percent of the leading sires with at least one parent born here traced to Davenports. (Many, if not most of the other horses included in the statistics were of straight Polish or Egyptian ancestry, but since they had a parent bred in the USA they were included.) The influence of Davenport ancestry continues to be evident at all the national and local shows. The 1987 National Champion and Reserve National mare all carry numerous lines to Davenport imports, on both sides of their pedigrees.

A very brief review of the history of the Davenport Arabians in the USA will help to show the spread and influence of these horses. In 1906, when Homer Davenport, with the financial help of Peter Bradley, imported 27** Bedouin bred horses from the desert, there were already 75 Arabians in this country. (**Only 23 were registered.) Most of the Arabians already here were either imported from, or were descendants of horses imported from England, mostly of Crabbet (Blunt & Ali Pasha bloodlines) breeding. There were also a few survivors of the Hamidie importation. All but one of which were owned by Davenport and/or Bradley. Up until the early to mid 1920’s, the Arabian breeders were few and although they were mostly on the East coast, they tended to develop their own programs more or less independently of each other. Imagine hauling horses with a circa 1920 vehicle! Homer Davenport and Peter Bradley didn’t use the Spenser Borden or W.R. Brown horses, and the reverse was also true. When Peter Bradley began dispersing his Davenport horses, several were sold to the midwest, while others went to California. In 1925, the Kellogg Arabian Ranch in California was founded with 10 straight Davenports (including the stallions Jadaan, Antez, Letan) and five horses of 75 percent Davenport ancestry. A year later, Kellogg imported 15 horses from the Crabbet Stud in England in 1929, after touring Arabian breeding farms in the east. Kellogg purchased four more Davenport mares and the eight-year-old Davenport stallion, Hanad, together with seven high percentage Davenports.

The stage had now been set for blending together the best of the Davenport and Crabbet bloodlines, both at the Kellogg Ranch and elsewhere. At the Kellogg Ranch, the Davenports were bred to each other periodically, as were the Crabbet horses, but a common pattern was to breed the newly imported mares to Kellogg’s Davenport stallions Antez or Jadaan, and especially Hanad. The Davenport mares were frequently bred to the imported stallions *Nasik, *Raseyn and *Ferdin. These were highly successful crosses, in both first and subsequent generations.

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Time Capsules

By Charles Craver
from the Arabian Horse World, July 93

Now and then someone creates a time capsule so that people of the future can see how things used to be. Some of these time capsules are especially valuable because they pass on in unchanged form the most beautiful and useful things of one time period to another: a symphony of Beethoven for the future, an instance of technology or mathematics which has made a special contribution.

A time capsule is a way of saying, “We think this is beautiful and we want to be sure you do not forget it,” or “We have perfected this item of life, and we want you to remember what we did.”

The best time capsules preserve something that is useful: something that makes life better for people in the future.

We have time capsules in Arabian breeding, too. They are the multitude of projects of our preservation breeders. Each of these is something that some serious person is preserving of the best in the history of Arabian breeding: the defining horse of some certain kind, the best way of breeding horses, the best goals for breeding Arabian horses. The idea of preservation breeding is to be sure the present glories of the breed do not lose contact with the wonderful horses and breeders from which they came.

Preservation breeding means setting a boundary around treasured areas of past breeding. Each is kept as a separate entry, as a capsule of Arabian breeding that does not change with time as far as essentials are concerned. These separate, distinct capsules are not isolates in Arabian breeding. They contribute on a continuing basis to the larger Arabian breeding scene as effective elements of current activity. Some Preservation horses attain the highest honors in their own right. It is surprising how many others turn up as parents and grandparents of successful horses. Preservation breeding is not a matter of being a hermit or operating a zoo for antique types of Arabian horses.

Mainstream Arabian breeding is sometimes portrayed as an affair of the moment. Glory goes to today’s champion, yesterday’s import, and tomorrow’s trend. Preservation breeders live a different life. Each is tuned to some part of the history of Arabian horses that worked especially well. To recognize success, the Preservation breeder does not have to depend on judges or representations by artists or standards that have been prepared for a transient show context. It is so much simpler instead to refer to flesh and blood horses of the past that were proven success or to the breeding plans from which such horses came. Preservation breeders have the further advantage that their breeding stock does not go out of date. It may become old and blemished, but its function in preserving values of past Arabian breeding remains a constant. Judges, champions, and markets come and go, but Preservation breeders and their horses just keep rollin’ along.

One of the marvels of Arabian breeding is that almost everyone who seriously tries a breeding program may be successful. That is true for Preservation breeders, too. Thanks to them we have a variety of successful types within the Arabian breed that far exceeds what any person could conceive of as a single standard for the Arabian horse. There is, indeed, a special kind of Arabian horse for each person who wants one. Many such horses are either themselves examples of Preservation breeding or have Preservation horses as close-up ancestors.

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Homer Davenport — Cartoonist

from The American Review of Reviews, Volume 45, 1912, pp 686-688.

Homer DavenportWith the death of Homer Calvin Davenport last month, the work of one of America’s foremost political cartoonists was brought to a sudden end. And powerful work it had been, especially in the field of politics and industrial reform. Few cartoonists had attained such great fame, or dealt stronger blows than Davenport. Although his work covered a wide range of subjects, it was his political cartoons for which he was best known. His original creations of the Trust figure — brutal and burly — and the dollar-marked suit of Senator Hanna, have been accepted as distinct additions to the symbolic stock-in-trade of his craft.

Davenport himself witnessed an illustration of the fame of some of his work. While waiting in Senator Hanna’s ante-room for an interview one day, there came in an old colored preacher. As soon as the Senator showed himself, the preacher exclaimed: “Why, Marse Hanna, I knowed you right away. I would a-knowed you anywhere.” “Why, how is that,” said Mr. Hanna, “I’ve never met you.” “Well, you see, Marse Hanna, I knowed you from your pictures in the papers—the ones Mr. Davenport draws.” Davenport was sitting close by, so the Senator couldn’t help but smile, although it is not on record that he relished the portrait of himself which Davenport had made familiar to millions of Americans all over the country.

Davenport’s “Uncle Sam” was one of the best produced by any cartoonist. He usually pictured him as a dignified and serious gentleman, shrewd of face and spare in form, clad, of course, in the traditional tricolor, but, emerging as a rule only in great crises, scenting trouble on the international horizon perhaps, and reaching out for his old flintlock, or bowed with grief over some tragic event of national interest.

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The Case of the Blunt-Davenport Correspondence: Addition II

Copyright 1991 by Charles Craver
published in Arabian Visions September 1991
Used by permission of Charles Craver

All SheikhsIn the August, 1991 edition of the “Baker Street” column, Debra and Jerald Dirks presented three letters from the correspondence between Homer Davenport and Lady Anne Blunt, both pioneer Arabian horse breeders. Together with her husband Wilfrid Blunt, Lady Anne had founded England’s Crabbet Arabian Stud in 1878. Crabbet’s earliest foundation stock, including the key mare Dajania, was acquired in and around Aleppo in what is today Syria. In 1906 Davenport, an American political cartoonist, had made his own Arabian horse buying expedition to that region and returned to the U.S. with 27 head. Davenport and Lady Anne made enormous contributions through the horses they imported and bred, but also through their influence on the way people in England and America think about Arabian horses. Their correspondence provides an intimate look at the dialogue between these two foundation breeders.

Sheykh Obeyd Garden
Ain Shaems, Egypt

To Homer Davenport
21 December 1907

Dear Sir:

Thank you for your letter of Nov. 25 which followed me to Egypt, and for the previous one and the photographs. I would have written sooner to say this but could not find time before I left England. (1)

I am glad that Bushra and her Mahruss colt are in your hands and you were fortunate to get them. (2) And you see how right are the Arabs to attach a peculiar importance to particular strains. In the center and south of Arabia they have remained much more exclusive in that respect than in the North. Moreover they apply the term “Shemalieh” (Northerner) to the horses of the northern tribes as indicative of the suspicion with which they regard all such, excepting only those bred by certain known families amongst whom Ibn Sbeyni, Ibn ed Derri and others you will have heard of.

It is a pleasure to have good news of Markisa. (3) I trust she will do credit to her ancestry. She is, you know, like Bushra, a Seglawieh Jedranieh of Ibn ed Derr’s strain.

I do not, at present, see my way to selling any of my few mares of the Hamdani Simri strain. I am afraid that these precious strains are becoming so very rare owing to the destruction of mares through the use of fire-arms in the war now raging in Nejd, (4) that very great caution will be more than ever necessary in parting with representatives of them. Apart from this new reason for caution, I want to guard against a recurrence of mistakes formerly made more than once at the Stud in not securing a sufficient number of representatives before parting with a mare or horse. Shahwan, whom you mention, is a case in point. (5) He was a Dahman Shahwan of the strain in the Abbas Pasha (6) collection, and is quite inadequately represented, as accidents happened unfortunately to almost all of his stock. N.B. — they were too few when the horse was gone.

Bushra’s dam, Bozra, was by imported Pharoah, a Seglawi Jedran of Ibn ed Derri’s strain and her sire imported Azrek being of the same strain, she is altogether of that blood. Mahruss was a descendant of Abbas Pasha collection — the strain, Dahman Nejib, existing with the Beni Hajar and Ajman tribes southeast of Nejd. Abbas Pasha got that and Dahman Shahwan and Kehilan Jellibi through Ibn Saoud, the powerful prince of Riad of those days. As an instance of the prices the Viceroy would pay, I may mention that I had it on high authority that he gave lbs 7000 for the original Kehileh Jellabieh brought to him!

I am delighted to hear of the excellent support your stud is having in the large order for half-Arab cavalry remounts. That is something like support — and your government is wise to give it.

I shall always be interested whenever you care to report further progress.

Believe me to be yours faithfully,
Anne N. Blunt

(1) Lady Anne wintered in Egypt at her home near Cairo, Sheykh Obeyd Garden. According to her published Journals and Correspondence in 1907 she left England on November 19 and arrived at Sheykh Obeyd by November 26.

(2) *Bushra (Azrek X Bozra) was a bay mare bred at Crabbet and foaled in 1889. She was sold at the 1900 Crabbet sale and imported that year to the United States, carrying a colt by the Crabbet sire Mahrus. This colt was foaled in 1901 and eventually registered as *Ibn Mahruss. Davenport acquired *Bushra and *Ibn Mahruss several years after they arrived in America.

(3) *Markisa (Narkise X Maisuna) was a 1905 bay filly bred at Crabbet. Davenport had purchased her from Crabbet and she had arrived in the United States in February of 1907.

(4) Nefd is a region in the north central part of the Arabian peninsula.

(5) *Shahwan was a grey stallion foaled in Egypt in 187. The Blunts had purchased him in January of 1892, used him at stud in Egypt briefly, and imported him to England that spring. The Blunts used him for breeding at Crabbet in 1892, 93, and 94, then sold him in September of 1895 to Mr. J.A.P. Ramsdell for export to America. By the time of this letter, apparently *Shahwan’s only representatives at the Crabbet Stud were Shibine (out of his daughter Shohba) and Ibn Yashmak. Ibn Yashmak’s dam, Yashmak (by *Shahwan), was still owned at Sheykh Obeyd in 1907.

(6) Abbas Pasha was Viceroy of Egypt from 1848 to 1854. His collection of Arabian horses provided foundation stock for the stud of Ali Pasha Sherif, from whom Lady Anne began acquiring horses in 1889.

Thanks to the generosity of the Arabian Horse Trust in making its files available to members of the Arabian Horse Historians Association during the AHHA annual meeting.

The Case of the Blunt-Davenport Correspondence–Part II: A Shoddy Affair

Copyright 1991 by Charles Craver
published in Arabian Visions, September 1991
Used by permission of Charles Craver

In the August issue, the “Baker Street” series contained an article by Debra and Jerald Dirks presenting an exchange of three letters dating from 1906 and 1907 between Lady Anne Blunt of England and Homer Davenport of the U.S. Commentary on these letters was reserved to the present writer for this issue of Arabian Visions.

Farewell to HalebIn these letters, as in others, communications between Lady Anne Blunt and Homer Davenport were cordial and provided a reasoning exchange of thought. Lady Anne starts in an apologetic mode because the fact is that in prior correspondence with Spencer Borden, and before she knew anything on the subject other than gossip and hearsay, she had made some comments about the Davenport importation. These comments were not in themselves so bad, but they were used selectively by Borden to create a redhot controversy in the American Arabian horse community.

In a letter which we do not have, Davenport obviously had contacted her on the subject directly, and her reply to him begins this series of correspondence.

The differences between Lady Anne Blunt and Homer Davenport were really misunderstandings, and rather easily resolved. Beyond that there were considerable shared observations about the Arabian horse and experiences in Arabian travel. Lady Anne observed that Davenport’s travel experience confirmed her observation of the difficulty of travel in Arabia, and she commented on Davenport’s good fortune in having the sponsorship of the Turkish government, personal pluck, and a favorable season for desert travel, in that the Anazah were relatively accessible to contact by travelers in the heat of the summer. Lady Anne and Davenport discuss the role of a prominent sheikh, “Hashem Bey,” in Arabian desert politics. It is observed by Lady Anne that Davenport’s use of the word “chubby” corresponds to what she gives as the Arabic word “shabba,” meaning suitable to breed from.

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Joyce Ballou Gregorian Hampshire

of Upland Farm, Holliston, Massachusetts
5 July 1946 – 29 April 1991
from the July 1991 issue of Arabian Visions

Joyce Hampshire was only 44 when she died of cancer. Like many people of her generation, she was a free thinker. It seems a bit premature to be writing an obituary for someone her age. Death is like that.

As people of Joyce’s generation came of age, they probably drew more attention to themselves than any generation of Americans before or since. As Joyce put it, “when we entered college in the early 60’s, we looked and dressed just like our parents. By the time we graduated in 1968, we looked and dressed like the members of a motorcycle gang.” Like most of the rest of her generation, she did not continue in this vein. “I remember sitting in a circle on the floor singing songs while someone played guitar. Which seems like such a period thing to do, looking back.”

Joyce’s father, Arthur T. Gregorian, was an Armenian immigrant who opened an Oriental run store in the Boston area in 1934 and became a legend in the rug trade. Her mother, Phebe (Ballou) Gregorian, was from an old New England family. Concerning her ancestry Joyce remarked, “My face is Middle Eastern, but my heart is New England.” At the time of her death Joyce was vice-president of Arthur T. Gregorian, Inc., and had been travelling to the Middle East on rug buying trips from an early age. Following her graduation from Radcliffe College in 1968, she moved to Tehran where she taught English.

An accomplished musician, Joyce was a soprano and harpsichordist. She also composed ballads for lute and guitar, and gave occasional operatic recitals.

Joyce did her own thinking. Nothing was set in stone until she had had a chance to investigate a subject thoroughly and draw her own conclusions. And then it was still open to reinvestigation and reinterpretation. This independent, iconoclastic mind was coupled with great warmth and a brilliant sense of humor.

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Long Live Al Khamsa

1991 copyright by Joyce Gregorian Hampshire
from Arabian Horse World July 1991

(Also included in this issue of the World was Joyce Gregorian Hampshire’s “extemporaneous” welcoming speech to the 1990 Al Khamsa convention. She died before she could edit it into written form. Charles and Jeanne Craver took on the project for her.)

SA ApogeeI want to give you, as best I can, some sense of what Al Khamsa is and what Al Khamsa isn’t. Because two directions of Al Khamsa horses have been published, there is sometimes a sense that we are a registry. This is not the case at all. Our group is primarily a fraternal and educational group. We like each other, and we like to talk about the horses which interest us.

Our work is to find out, through study, documentation and research, as much as we can about the Arabian horses of Bedouin origin as it exists today, or as its descendants exist today in the United States, and then to share this information with others.

I think it is important to understand that this is a very open group. You do not have to own an Al Khamsa horse to become an Al Khamsan. All you have to do is be interested in where the Arabian horse came from, what are its Bedouin roots, what was the Arabian horse before it reached the West, and how these concepts apply to the horses we have in North America today.

Like any special interest — an interest in a particular type of porcelain or china or painting or furniture – this is a little bit of a quixotic interest. To someone else, it may seem silly for a person who is only interested in the works of a particular 18th century cabinetmaker to go into raptures over a fragile table and ignore any number of nice, more modern pieces. In a way, that’s how most of us in Al Khamsa are. We will go into ecstasies over something which fit into what we are fascinated by, and be blind to many other beauties which surround us but which simply don’t happen to fit into our particular sphere of interest.

It’s important not to say that an Al Khamsa horse is better than another horse. Better for what? That’s not the point. The point is: which horses today still carry within them this antique lineage, this romantic connection with the horse of Arabia Deserta … the horse of the Bedouin?

There is a chapter in T.E. (Lawrence of Arabia) Lawrence’s Seven Pillars of Wisdom, first published in 1927 in a private edition, in which he tries to describe for Western readers how black and white everything is in the desert, that there are no shades of grey. That is how he phrased it. When you’re in the desert, it is just the sand and the sky and survival. “This is my well and if you drink from it you’re dead.” Everything is black and white.

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Davenport Influence

by Carol Lyons
all rights reserved
Arabian Horse News 1977
Used by Permission of Carol Lyons

Several years ago I met Mr. Warner Dixon, our County School Superintendent, and in the course of our conversation he mentioned that he had owned several Arabs many years ago. I invited him out to see our Arabs and while he was here we looked up his horses in the Stud Book. Great was my amazement to discover that one of his mares was BABE AZAB 567, maternal great-granddam of our stallion PORTHOS, who is 100 percent Davenport breeding.

BABE AZAB was 18 when he bought her and he described her as being pure white and “Everything that you’ve ever read about the ideal Arab; a beautiful, expressive head and full of fire and spirit, yet so very gentle and willing.” For two years Mr. Dixon tried to get her in foal and thinking that she wasn’t in foal (he even had a ‘vet’ check) he finally agreed to sell her … for $1,100. He never has gotten over the fact that she had a filly six months later, and two colts after that.

FasalMy curiosity aroused, I did some further checking and found that both BABE AZAB and FASAL (Porthos’ other maternal great-granddam) had been owned by the Robert Wilsons who bred Arabs on their Long Meadow Ranch near Prescott, Arizona, not far from where we live. Tracing down the descendants of these long ago mares has been quite interesting as they have both established highly successful lines.

The oldest of the two mares was FASAL 330, foaled in 1918. She was bred by the Hingham Stock Farm which was owned by Peter Bradley, financial partner of Homer Davenport. Her sire was *HAMRAH 28, and her dam was AMRAN 123 (*Deyr 33 x *Wadduda 30). FASAL was purchased by W.K. Kellogg in 1924, and it was at Kellogg’s that she produced her only two daughters.

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Davenport Family Horses at Locust Creek Farms

Arabian Visions May 1988
all rights reserved

By Steve & Jackie Daughton
Locust Creek Farms, Virginia

Our Davenport program began in 1981 with the purchase of Al Bayad Amira. We were thrilled to finally acquire a 100 percent Davenport mare, especially one sired by the beautiful Lysander, out of Bint Ralf, who was the sole female carrying on a very valuable and rare line in Davenport breeding.

We were so pleased with Amira that we soon decided we would shift to a totally Al Khamsa Davenport program. After selling the majority of our other Arabians, we were ready to select a stallion. This decision led us to Charles and Jeanne Craver and their farm in Hillview, Illinois.

Rosebud LBU and Divine Little RoseAccompanying me on both trips to the Cravers, was my then infant son David, who has put in many miles on the road with the horses trailer in tow. He has always been a trooper, just as the younger two girls have. We have never hesitated to have the children “help” with the horses, sit in the feed-boxes as the mares and foals eat, lead the mares, hold the stallion for shoeing, and kiss and brush the foals. This is one thing that we hold so valuable in the Davenports, their amazing dispositions.

At Craver Farm, we found beautiful horses and equally wonderful people in Charles and Jeanne. There were many lovely young stallions to choose from, but we decided on Trouvere, a Saqlawi from Tripoli’s last foal crop. We brought him home and trained him ourselves the following spring. He’s quite a horse. His power is obvious the minute one climbs aboard. He has proven himself many times in the show ring with consistent placings in both Class A and Open shows. In addition to this, he’s a great trail horse and not opposed to giving a four-year-old a good quiet ride.

In 1984, we were thrilled to acquire the lovely mare, Rosebud LBU, from Harry and Chris Grier of Lexington, North Carolina. I think still another advantage of owning Davenports is knowing the people that go with them. The Griers have been wonderful friends to us for years. It was through them that we bought our first purebred mares years ago, who also happened to be of 50 percent Davenport breeding through their super old sire, Oberon. It was also through the Griers I first discovered what those wonderful old Davenport horses that I had seen in Asheville, North Carolina, were all about. They were not only Arabians owned by Sunny Acres and being shown in the 1960s, but also my favorite ones such as SA Darius. They had been Davenports.

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Davenports Show Athletic Ability

by Joyce B. Gregorian

Elsewhere in this issue you will read Charles Craver’s history of the Davenport horse — a history in which he has played the major developmental role.

During the ‘50s and ‘60s, when the simple existence of the Davenport horse depended entirely on Craver Farms, relatively few animals could be spared from the breeding program to be trained or shown.

Even so, a number of the horses sold during this time distinguished themselves as working animals, for the most part in amateur hands.

Aida and MysticWithin the last decade, matters have begun to change. Increasing numbers of Davenport horses may be found outside Craver Farms, spread among an ever-widening group of enthusiastic breeder-owners.

For many of these owners, involvement with Davenport horses is a chance to combine a specialist breeding program with the production and enjoyment of highly usable and trainable animals.

The assets a Davenport horse can offer its amateur owner are considerable. The Davenport horse (and this highly inbred group is extremely consistent) is an athlete of medium size whose outstanding conformational feature is balance. There is a leg at each corner and a straight one at that.

While croups tend to be level and tail-carriage is proud, there is little of that over-built type of rear end to be seen where the hind-quarters stand above the withers and the canted angle of the tail forces the back to drop.

This means that Davenport horses, as a rule, have strong, raised backs able to carry a lot of weight. Similarly, the angle of head and neck tends to be very pliable so that the horse is easily put on the bit.

Most important, the Davenport horse tends to be extraordinarily personable, easy-going and interested in cooperation with its rider. It is nice that they tend to be rhythmic, bouncy movers; it is nicer that they are happy to put this athleticism at the service of their rider.

From the very first, it was the usefulness of the Davenport horse that attracted outside interest. The original importation was drawn from animals in active daily use as Bedouin war horse; thus they were horses that excelled in soundness, agility and amenability to training.

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