Out of the Past

from: The Breeder’s Service Bulletin Vol. 5 No. 2 Fall-Winter 1976

1976 Copyright by Charles & Jeanne Craver Craver

The Breeder’s Service Bulletin is honored to have been entrusted by Mr. Richard Pritzlaff of Sapello, New Mexico, with the publication of a letter dated November 6, 1925 written by his friend, Carl Raswan, to W.R. Brown. To our knowledge, this is the first publication for this letter.

At the time it was written, Carl Raswan was still new to this country — a young German immigrant who had arrived not too long after military service on the German side during World War I. He had already established himself as a writer and authority on bedouin life in Arabia and on the Arabian horse. He was employed as manager at the W.K. Kellogg ranch at Pomona, California, where he was carrying out the initial establishment of the Kellogg Arabian Stud. He signs the letter as “Carl Schmidt,” since his name appears not to have been changed to “Raswan” until naturalization some time later.

*Haleb 25Throughout his adult life, Raswan was active in the development of the Arabian horse on a worldwide basis. He traveled extensively in Arabia as well as to practically every other place where Arabian horses are to be found. He played a prominent part in several of the historic international movements of Arabian horses between the two world wars, including the 1926 importation from Crabbet to W.K. Kellogg — which introduced Skowronek to American breeding — the importation of Jasir to Germany from Egypt, and the 1931 importations from Arabia for Prince Sanguszko of Poland and the Babolna Stud of Hungary. From the 1920s through the year of his death, 1966, Raswan acted as a consultant for many of the prominent breeders of Arabians in the United States. At present, he is probably best known for extensive literary production on the subject of Arabian horses, culminating with the Raswan Index which was published in the last years of his life.

During a long life in connection with Arabian horses, one of Raswan’s major themes was that Arabian breeding is best understood in terms of the breeding strains which the bedouin breeders assigned to their horses. The present letter is an early public expression of this observation. Although Raswan wrote on the subject many times in succeeding years, he was probably never more convincing than in this early letter, written while he was still a young man with the experience of Arabia Deserta fresh in his mind.

W.R. Brown, to whom the letter was written, was at that time president of the Arabian Horse Club of America as well as owner of the Maynesboro Arabian Stud. Probably no single person has had a geater influence on the establishment of the Arabian horse in America. He reorganized the Arabian Horse Club as an effective registry for Arabian horses. In his own stud, he accumulated many of the finest bloodlines which had been imported to this country by others and then added to these by further importations of his own, most notably from Crabbet and Egypt. At a time when Arabian horses were thought by most to be too rare and fragile for real use, his horses competed and were victorious in definitive endurance contests sponsored by the U.S. Army Remount Service. His book The Horse of the Desert is still one of the most informative and beautiful books on the Arabian horse in the English language.

For a time following his employment at the Kellogg ranch, Carl Raswan was employed by W.R. Brown. Among other duties, he appears to have assisted in preparation of The Horse of the Desert. He also served as guide on Brown’s own expedition to the Arabian desert. Eventually, the two men fell out with one another, but, for some years, at least, they worked together in furthering the Arabian horse.



Nov. 6th 1925

Mr. W.R. Brown
Maynesboro Arabian Stud
Berlin, N.H.

My dear Mr. Brown:

Received your kind letter of Oct 31st today, and thank you for all information and “News”. I am anxious to answer your various questions:

Mr. Kellogg is very interested to see your stock and if things happen to come to our favour, that we are able to leave here in December, I expect that Mr. Kellogg and I may see you around New Year. Thank you for the information about the direct route via Montreal.

Various Horse families (and strains) exist in the same bedouin tribes, but certain families of certain tribes are celebrated as breeders of particular absolute pure strains and families of horses) — The “good, old, solid times” are passing too in Arabia and the pure — absolutely pure — strains are disappearing fast — the farther north you go (away from the Nafud desert) the less you find which are considered absolutely pure.

An Arab Horse today considered “ASIL” when

(1) Pure in strain and Family

or: (2) Pure in strain alone and of different family

or: (3) Pure in two related strains (example: Kuhaylan and Saklawi mare).

A “Fanatical” Bedouin breeder will only consider No (1) “pure”. (“Asil” mare and “hadud” stallion).

If some of our old Americans regret the passing of so many old ideals of Lincoln’s time — so do the old Bedouins regret the passing of the breeding of absolutely pure strains (how otherwise could Abbas Pasha have paid $15,000 for an old crippled SAKLAWIAH (SHAIFI) mare?! which he imported to Egypt from Central-Arabia). Or how could have been preserved the Muniki Hadraj type — the same 1700 producing the Darley Arabian and nearly 200 years later a “Kismet” or “Maidan”?! Or how could have been such “types” been preserved which are as different as a Morgan from a Kentucky Saddle Horse. (Kuhailan and Saklawi for example) or a Pony from a Race horse (Abaiyan and Muniki). While I do not say they absolutely resemble such types, still they do mostly surprisingly so — and the various diffferences appear more in the composite bloods and not in the Arab so much (which should prove anyhow not only a careful fixed breeding in such Arab Strains for many generations, but also an intensifying breeding of such fixed types through many occasions of closest in-breeding). No tribe who ever owned “fast” horses exterminated a tribe with “slow” horses (not only in Arabia — see also England versus Boers as other instance of history). You mention the Muniki (large and fast) and the Abaiyan (small and slow). But: the Abaiyan have the endurance, I could prove it to you by our one Abaiyan mare and our one Muniki mare –“Arak” is a dwarf on the side of “Sotamm” — but after one mile already Arak will take the lead and keep going for hours and hours, while Sotamm would be “dead”. — the Muniki are only considered good for a fast, short stretch (a bedouin will consider 15 miles in gallop a “short” stretch and a 45 mile gallop (canter) a “good one”.) If a Bedouin would come to your tent in the desert and ask for a fast enduring horse to save his life from a well mounted pursuer and you would offer him 3 mares to pick from : a Saklawi, a Kuhailan, a Miniki — he would pick the Kuhailan mare as sure as she would have to have 4 legs and he would not need to ask you which one was the Kuhailan mare, as he would know her from her looks and conformation!! England could not fight on her “thoroughbreds” against the Boers but imported to South Africa smaller, slower horses from Argentina and the American Western States and in the Sudan they lost their thoroughbreds and imported Syrian “Arabs and Mesopotamian Arabs” which were able to stand the campaign — The same thing in Arabia. In a fight the tribe mounted on Abaiyan, Saklawis and Kuhailans will exterminate the tribe mounted on Miniki. But such a thing has never happened — because there is only one bedouin family (a group of several “house-holds” — tent-ships) breeding the pure Miniki-Hadraji — Even in a “gazu” (surprise attack) though short and quick done — needs days of preparations — hide and seek game — and I have never heard of a Miniki Hadraji taking part in it (Only on hunting parties) but mostly as mounts for shorter distance and fast time (messengers, etc.) Beside (the Miniki Hadraj has been the rarest, but not so much the other Miniki (Sbaili, etc., for example). About the danger of mixed blood through raids and in war see my book (and other authors who confirm this:) that a Bedouin (that is a “Pure Breeder” — call him a “fanatic” in breeding) rather returns or sells the mare which he gained if he cannot get enough satisfaction about her pure status, though he may by her looks and conformation be convinced that she is (for example) a Saklawi. But this alone does not satisfy the “fanatic” breeder. Ibn Saud (al Wahab) most famous stallion could not cover a single Bedouin mare — because he was not “Hadud” would they (the “fanatic” Bedouins) act like this if they would not care about purity in strain and mostly in family too!! See more in my book about it — if you and “we” (all the Arab Breeders) wish to recommend most thoroughly the Noble Arab Horse as a saddle-type in the East, we can allow certain crosses of families — but not strains — the strains are our types, as I thoroughly describe in my book. And herein is the fact and proof of wrong selection of strains of most (nay — all 0 breeders! We all have seedlings and not offshoots! Let us create offshoots. — ASIL HORSES. And “asil” means “rooted from the original” — not seeded. No variation, but fixed types. No compositions, but pure-blooded types of saddle horses. If I go to Arabia, I go as a 1A “Fanatic.” I will buy only the outstanding types of unalterated blood. Try and breed a perfect Miniki and a perfect Kuhailan: result: a narrow necked, long legged, heavy barreled, heavy headed, tail-hanging nag! A Bastard from two perfect specimens! But such and similar types you find all over Europe and America. If you was in Hungary (spec. Babolna) you will have noticed at the Government studs (Ki’ber, but spec. Babolna) the uniform type of Hungarian Saddle Horses. If you read their stud books (I did it in Budapest Minister (…?…) of agriculture 1915) you find Kuhailan, Kuhailan, Kuhailan and a few Saklawi and still fewer Shueyman and Hadban. Result: the famous uniform Hungarian Cavalry Horse: small, handsome, full endurance, gentleness, health, but lately through more admixing of thoroughbred blood a declining quality and appearing of various weedy types — We do not need to throw our American Arabs away — no, but intensify from now on mostly on Kuhailan and in 4 or 5 (Horse) generations we will have in America thousands of the finest type of uniform saddle horses about uniformly 14-3 and 15 hands high, handsome, good neck and tail carriage, strong, short backs, Arab wither (mostly not considered excellent!) and perfect shoulders, perfection in health and disposition. Too much Saklawi blood admixture would lower size about an inch, soften appearance, beautify a little more, a little more refinement in total composition, Balance, Symmetry. But I would intensify on Kuhailan!! But uniformity of type will never be reached by mixing various strains indefinitely. A halt has to be made, and a fixed type has to be created by the selection of the most qualified individuals of typical appearance –Sec. Montfiore’s preface to the (English ) Arabian Stud book is a nicely written article, but what he says does not apply to the Desert roaming ‘Anazah Beduius, but is nothing but a cooked down extract from Palgrave to other travelers. Ibn Rashid’s breeding “art” (and others too: Princes, Amirs and Kings from Persia to the Golden Horn and from Cairo to Muscat) is not the “standard” of the desert and the Shammar Bedouins, Beni Sakr and others do not and never count in breeding pure Arabian horses! Even the nice words of Amir Feisal of Irak on his brother in Transjordain and on his father Hussein in Meccqa do not mean a thimble full of Arab Horse breeding wisdom to an Anazah. Montefiore is right when he says that the Bedouin’ do not select their stock with a view to their make and shape, as the Bedouin’s view, only an ASIL mare may have the ideal make and shape. An ‘Anazah will breed always (if he has the chance) to the same strain and even the same family (as one trotting-man in America would not breed to a Hunter, but rather on Messenger’s line). I like Montifiore and I correspond with him occasionally, but he ought to issue an intelligent Arab Stud book for England. I know he has many enemies (also Lady Wentworth), but he could gain over his opponents by a useful Studbook, giving you records of value to breeders, including strain and family names, size if possible (a great help in selecting the proper mares, spec. with wrongly mixed –), etc. Did Montifiore ever visit Arabs — which — and did he ever see an ‘Anazah? English Colonial Officers (or Iraq, Persian Gulf, Egypt, etc.) and Arab Sovereigns (Emir Feisal and others) are mostly the informatiors for England — and they do not know anything about the Breeding and of Arab Horses. Tweedy (Colonel) was an exception, but even he hardly ever left Mesopotamia.

The pictures which I mailed to you and showing you the similarity of Arab and Composite types were only examples of illustrations to destroy the illusion that the Arab is only a horse of one particular type. The Champion of Australia (I do not like him) even blinded the best horsemen in Australia. But do not forget that we are all “human” and horsemen in Vermont who love Morgans will condemn Hunters in Ireland and Bedouins will “faint” when they see “thoroughbreds.” I am not going to publish these pictures yet, maybe later when I return from Arabia as illustations of “taste and dislikes in conformation.” Stick to your “Kuhailan” and you have selected the greatest, most useful, most grateful, most important type of any horse in the world. They are the clay in the hand of the breeder to mold offsprings in any desired form and shape. They are mentally and physically absolutely perfect.

I am so glad to hear about your proposed book with a view of distributing it among Army officers and other interested people. I gladly see you use anything of my book and give me credit and I would feel it a honor to be of a help to our American friends, as the Arab Horse deserves all our love, patience, interest, faithfulness and other virtues (which we may have or not have, but are able to gain by constant companionship of those most able and lovable of all friends in animal life). I would like to correct the English translation of my book as there are very many faults which give (…?…) the contrary meaning what I really intend to say. My book is not “finished.” I wrote it under the most difficult circumstances and never had the time to pull it together under topics and headings but I had the promise of several interested literary friends who would do it for me while I would be in Arabia and add whatever would be of value when I return, God willing, healthy and successfully! I was most fortunate to find Professor Noeldeck (Germany) to be interested in my book and he in turn interested Prof Zittelman to read my manuscript and to verify and correct my Arabic alphebetical list. These two Professors are the two greatest Arab Scholars in the world (Prof Z translating now 6 volumes of 800 pages each from Arabic into German. This work will be of immense value when I make my trip into Arabia and among the Bedouins again, as I will have a perfect list, alphabetical ordered in English, German and Arabic and it will help me in my final research and selection of the purest blood of Arabia. I expect that this final thorough work will help me to lift the veil of mystery about the Miniki Hadraj and several other strains and the tracing of the history of “cold facts” about the original Kuhailan. I will not give up, but I will follow the narrow path and love will move the final obstacles and I hope to return with complete records and the complete number of perfect and absolute arabians. Do not wait with your book for my sake, but do as you see for the best for the sake of our beloved Arab Horses! They have some real friends in this world yet and Mr. Kellogg is one of the most unselfish and sacrificing and his love for them will shine like the sun of Salvation for horse breeding and I know that your heart and the heart of Mr. Harris are strengthened with the same love — our love for our arabs.

Ever Sincerely yours


P.O.B. 3207
Kellogg Arabian Stud
Pomona Calif.