by Frederick W. Mimmack, M.D. All Rights Reserved
used by permission of Frederick W. Mimmack, M.D
Arabian Horse News August 1972
Fred and Barbara Mimmack
SMOKEY HILL FARM
16619 East Easter Avenue
Foxfield, CO 80016
This is the story of the evolution of one family’s backyard Arabian horse breeding program, focusing on straight Davenport Arabian horses of the Saqlawi family. The story really starts back in the late 30’s and the 40’s when Arabian horses were introduced to me by my parents through attendance at the Sunday shows at Kellogg’s and later, the pioneering all-Arabian shows in Southern California. Ownership of an Arabian horse at that time was an impossible dream for me, so I did as so many others in that position do, I read everything I could lay my hands on. In those days, the Western Horseman published articles by Carl Raswan fairly regularly, and the public library had the works of Raswan, Brown, Blunt, Tweedie, Wentworth, and of course Davenport.
Naturally, the controversy and disagreement contained in some of this material led to questions in my mind. I visited some of the local breeders, introduced myself, and asked questions. As I look back now with considerable warm feeling towards those people, I wonder how many of us today will slow down our whirlwind pace long enough to hear the questions of a ten-year-old child, and to take that opportunity to teach him something. Those people, and also my father, who was a Thoroughbred enthusiast, taught me a lot; particularly an appreciation of tradition and of quality.
As the years went by, I developed an eye and a preference for a certain type of horse, and I hoped that someday I could become an owner and breeder. During most of the 50’s my attention to any kind of horse had to be shoved completely into the background while I devoted myself to college and medical studies. Fortunately for me, I also acquired a wife and a firm commitment to being a good husband and father. My wife Barbara was realistically impressed with the observation that I had never lost my interest in Arabian horses, and she thought that it was nice, and even offered to share it with me, but extracted the promise from me that I would buy a house before I bought a horse. Practical girl. I’m glad I kept my promise; this girl who once commented that she would groom the horses but wouldn’t clean the stalls, has not only done both, she has fed, watered, trailered, cooled out, nursed, transfered, single-handedly delivered an abnormally-presenting foal, and has brought weak ones into her kitchen for round-the-clock bottle feedings. Any would-be hopeful backyard breeder would do well to look first for an efficient wife with straight legs, sound teeth, naturally curly hair, and a proven talent for the domestic arts. A true connoisseur would also look for beauty, intelligence, and a loving disposition.
When we once again found time to attend Arabian horse shows, we were delighted to see how the numbers of horses and shows had increased, but I noted that the type of Arabian which I remembered from my youth was rarely to be seen. I decided to “return to the books” and the study of pedigrees. Working with my old books, the stud books, and the magazines was a laborious process, but it led to the observation that the “old desert breeding,” of which my teachers had been so proud, was practically gone except in combination with other blood lines of distinctly different characteristics. Our favorites among the show horses of the time represented just such combinations. We ultimately came to believe that even the desirable horses of blended bloodlines might someday disappear also if someone did not take care to preserve each of the component parts in pure form so that they could be blended again in the same way. Later, after we had settled on Davenports for our own small effort along that line, we learned that a number of people were actively working on exactly the same idea.
In December 1960, Barbara and I, and our first one and a half (of four) boys visited Southern California once again, so I took the opportunity to visit Alice Payne. This visit was undoubtedly the start of something good for me, and one of my most memorable experiences. Not only did Mrs. Payne show me a herd of the most astoundingly uniform Arabians I had ever seen, but she managed to squeeze into a four-hour visit more information than I had thought possible.
By this time we realized that we could handle only a backyard program. I told Mrs Payne that what we wanted was a breeding program small enough that our family could handle it ourselves without hired help, and still have some semblance of family life. We wanted to enjoy our horses and still enjoy each other, our children and our professional life. At the same time, we still hoped to use our limited means to preserve some worthwhile bloodline, Mrs. Payne was really enthusiastic about that idea, and considered it possible to do something valuable with even one carefully-selected mare. We discussed bloodlines, some of the wonderful old horses which had been hers at one time or other, and her highly selective in-breeding program. By then, *RAFFLES had been dead several years, but he was certainly not gone — it was clear that Mrs. Payne’s scholarly and systematic approach was successful in preserving the *RAFFLES type.
Mrs. Payne explained that in her opinion, there were really very few living Arabian stallions which could be considered true breeding stallions, in the sense that they had quality themselves plus the ability to pass on their quality with recognizable consistency. Excluding *RAFFLES, and horses from her own program, she named about six stallions which she considered worthy of the label “breeding stallion.” Actually two on the list had recently died. I was quite impressed that two of the six were Davenports: IBN HANAD and TRIPOLI. We had never seen either horse, but we had admired pictures which we had seen of both, and had noted that IBN HANAD seemed to be producing horses of very high quality, which resembled each other very much, with classic beauty and particularly lovely heads. We were also impressed with Mrs. Payne’s high reguard for the Davenport mares, and with the remark which she repeated that it was her intention that eventually all of her own stock would trace in tail female line to one Davenport mare, *URFAH 40.
After this visit, the next logical step for us was to visit Craver Farms to see TRIPOLI. We managed this in December 1961, and here were found the horses we had been seeking. TRIPOLI hmself was the kind of horse I remembered, and he was producing uniform high quality Arabians, just as Mrs. Payne had told me. The old foundation broodmares were a beautiful group and when I commented on one mare with a particularly lovely head, Charles said “to get that kind of head, you have to go back to the old GAMIL line.” The mare was ANTAN, and she was sired by ANTEZ, out of GAMIL. My rush back to the books showed me that there were no more like her, but that GAMIL had produced four more Davenports, all sired by her own son, IBN HANAD.
The oldest of these was MAEDAE 7463 who by then was owned by Frank Brewster. Not long after our first visit to Craver Farms, we noted an ad for the dispersal of the Brewster Arabians, and we went to see MAEDAE. We found a tiny, exquisite mare, with a head like ANTAN’s. Her price, though certainly reasonable for her value, was more than we could afford, and we left Brewster’s with the heavy feeling that we might have just passed up the chance of a lifetime. No one can imagine our excitement when Mr. Brewster wrote us the following year, offering MAEDAE and her 1963 Davenport filly, RHANI, sired by Mr. Brewster’s young stallion TRAIN (Tripoli X Ehwat Ansarlah). At the time, we were just out of the Army, establishing a private practice, and living in an area where we could not keep horses. We bought MAEDAE with the intention of breeding her to TRIPOLI, so we imposed upon Charles Craver’s generosity and asked him to lease MAEDAE from us, which he did. We could hardly believe our good fortune–an IBN HANAD daughter to breed to TRIPOLI–the very two stallions which Mrs. Payne had recommended so highly to us.
Without the willing help and the great fund of knowledge of Charles Craver, our own program would never have started nor survived.
MAEDAE and TRIPOLI produced two fillies right off the bat. About this time we realized that Arabians of the Saqlawi strain were extremely rare, not only among the living Davenport horses, but in the breed as a whole.
The subject of family strains could, and does, fill volumes, but to be brief, the family strain breeding system was one used by the Bedouin tribes for centuries, and followed by breeders in many countries into which Arabian horses were imported. It was followed by some of the foundation breeders in America also, but by only a relative few in the past 25 years. The origin of the names of the five main families: Kuhaylan, Saqlawi, Hamdan, Hadban, and ‘Ubayan (‘Abayyan), was apparently legend, but the families were bred selectively in the desert long enough to establish and preserve distinct family types. The family name is inherited from the female side of the pedigree. The characteristics of the Saqlawi horses as described by several authorities were great refinement, grace and beauty with fine, dense bone, lighter musculature, slightly taller stature (some authorities), broad chest and deep heart, and a very fine but slightly longer head. Families with similar characteristics, and considered to be closely related to the Saqlawi include the ‘Abayyan and the Dahman.
With TRIPOLI and MAEDAE both belonging to the Saqlawi family, we had “lucked” into the opportunity to preserve Saqlawiyat as well as straight Davenports. Charles Craver pointed out to us that there was possibly another straight Davenport stallion alive of the Saqlawi strain, and not closely related to either MAEDAE or TRIPOLI. His name was KAMIL IBN SALAN (Salan X Schada), and he had not been reported dead, but he was “lost.” While we returned to the search through the studbooks, and correspondence with the breeders of this stallion and his offspring, we decided to breed MAEDAE to SIR (Tripoli X Dharebah). Technically, SIR is a Kuhaylan, but his pedigree carries numerous crosses to the priceless Saqlawiyah-Jedraniyah mare, *URFAH. This mating produced the 1967 colt SIR MARCHEN.
In the interim we had located KAMIL IBN SALAN at Kelly Ridge Ranch in Oroville, California, and had discovered that he was offered for sale by his owner, Mr. Robert Osborne, who was dispersing all his Arabians. Mr. Osborne had been helped in setting up his program by none other than Jimmy Wrench, a man responsible for salvaging many priceless Arabians of yesteryear. The Kelly Ridge breeding program consisted of a Davenport stallion crossed on mares of Wrench breeding. These mares were either KUBRIYA or ABU RASEYN daughters out of Davenport mares, or mares of other direct desert breeding. When I went to see KAMIL IBN SALAN, I was able to see his get from these mares. They were a pleasing and impressive group, in which the SKOWRONEK characteristics predominated, as would be expected. I liked KIS for himself – he had some qualities which I considered important – sound straight legs, outstanding withers, a long sloping shoulder, and long neck. He also showed the slender, leggy build which has been described as characteristic of the Saqlawi, and a striking head with prominent bulge between the eyes, supposed to be characteristic of the Abayyan. He had his faults, of course, but we felt that the test for this stallion would be breeding him to Davenport mares. He would be valuable at the very least, as an out-cross stallion for TRIPOLI in the Saqlawi program.
In the years since then, we have certainly had our set-backs and losses, most of which seemed to hit at one time. One four-year-old mare died unexplainedly one month before foaling. Another produced twins, lost both, and developed subsequent fertility problems. But in 1971 came “the Unsinkable” MOLLY BROWN sired by KIS and out of the Craver mare MOTH (Tripoli X Maedae). This filly represents five straight generations of Saqlawi breeding, and as she develops, we believe that she is going go look like the Saqlawi horse described by Brown and Raswan. She is a well-balanced delicate filly but on the tall, leggy side with a head which is slightly longer and straighter in profile than the typically Kuhaylan head. A 1972 full sister looks just like her so far. A late 1972 foal is eagerly awaited–from KIS and MOTH’s full suster MAEFAH (Tripoli X Maedae).
We chose the name “MOLLY BROWN” for two reasons: we felt that after a string of bad luck, this filly just had to be “unsinkable.” She also happens to be a true brown in color. She was born a dark bay but gradually turned black. Breeders trying to breed blacks may be interested to note that there are no blacks in her pedigree, the nearest grey is four generations back, and the nearest browns are six and seven generations back: the original desert imports *JEDAH and *HALEB.
Our little program has been in existence for nearly ten years now. The time has flown, and it has all seemed very worthwhile. The horses seldom appear at shows, and only when it can be fun. With four boys, our car more frequently takes us to tennis matches, baseball games and music lessons. Our effort with horses has been helped immeasurably by people like Charles Craver who restored our faith that true horsemen still exist like those we remember from childhood. We have learned, and continue to learn, the joy, the beauty, and the responsibility associated with living things. …
Sometimes it seems as though we are just beginning; the work and the worry, the joy and the beauty are always there. We are bound to make mistakes. The selections required in this program have to be very rigorous. There are many ways in which our horses should be evaluated and tested. It could easily take several lifetimes … perhaps one of these days another ten-year-old child will come along.