Preserving the Bedouin Horse — Charles Craver’s Contribution (Part I)

by Joyce Gregorian-Hampshire
copyright 1987 by Joyce Gregorian Hampshire
Khamsat: Vol. 5 Num. 1 Jan. 1988

[Author’s Note: in the folowing article, Al Khamsa horses are printed in capital letters, e.g. ARABESQUE, LADY FAIR. Those Davenports known as the “Second Foundation” horses have their names bold-faced as well, e.g. TRIPOLI, DHAREBAH.]


*Muson 27The first Arabian horse registered as being bred by Charles C. Craver III is the 1955 bay mare Byzantia. She was sired by Garaff, a part-Davenport son of *Raffles, out of ARABESQUE (ROUF x KOREISH), a 1949 mixed-source Hamdani-Simri bred by C.A. West. That same year Charles acquired TRIPOLI (HANAD X POKA) and the rest, as they say, is history. But first, an introduction…

Charles grew up in Kansas City, Mo, and horses entered his life at an early age. Jerry the pinto pony gave rides at a local park and Bertha and Chuck Craver agreed to care for him one winter so their son Charles could continue to enjoy him year round. A few weeks before Christmas the pony-ride proprietor informed the Cravers that he had made a deal to sell his ponies but was giving first refusal to the care-taking families. After all, it was Christmas. One assumes he sold a lot of ponies. He certainly sold Jerry to the Cravers.

All growing horsemen need mentors and Charles’ was “Pop” Boyer, the neighbor and friend who began by stabling Jerry and continued to help with advice and stall room well into the Arabian years. Pop’s teachings are clearly reflected in the no-nonsense, low-key way in which Charles handles his large herd keeping them healthy, happy and under control with a modest amount of outside help and no fancy equipment.

In due course Charles went to Culver Military Academy, as his father had before him, and from there to Swarthmore. With the war his parents had also come East, moving to Chevy Chase, MD, since Chuck was now selling War bonds in Washington. Jerry the pony had been sadly left behind but another horse was soon to join the Craver family, and this one was an Arabian.

Charles had been intrigued by a magazine article about C.A. West’s horses, and as a result he and his parents went to see them one holiday while Charles was still in college. A bay colt leading the pack caught their eye and soon a deal had been struck to buy Indkerage (Indrage by *MIRAGE x Kerak). Since Inky still had some growing to do, he was sent back to Pop Boyer’s for a few years. When he returned, his style and beauty took him successfully into the local show world, and the Craver family was drawn into the developing Arabian horse community.

Family photographs of Chuck, Bertha and Inky on the front lawn in Chevy Chase give some hint of the enjoyment Charle’s parents drived from their first Arabian stallion. They became founder members of the new Arabian Horse Club which claimed members up and down the coast and as far west as Ohio. In the finest tradition of volunteer organizations, Bertha Craver was voted secretary at one of the few meetings she missed. She and her husband remained quite active in the growing Arabian horse world while their son completed college and went into the Navy.

While serving in the Navy, Charles used his West Coast travel opportunities to visit Arabian breeders of long-standing and see their horses. He took a movie camera with him, and in the Craver archives are many precious feet showing great horses of the period, photographed in California as well as in the mid-west and mid-Atlantic states: *Raffles, *Sulejman, *FADL, Aaraf to name a few. Alice Payne (whose son Pat bred TRIPOLI) was particularly inspiring with her collection of wonderful old bloodlines and her unswerving devotion to her beloved horses. Some of America’s finest early Arabians spent their last days in peace and comfort at Alice Payne’s Asil Arabians after being discarded by such places as Kellogg’s. Another inspiring collection of horses were Jimmy Wrench’s mares. Davenport and Davenport-related. (Wrench was the breeder of the “Second Foundation” mares DHANAD and SARANAH.)

Out of the Navy, Charles decided to move to Illinois where his family owned farmland as the result of his grandfather’s land speculation in the early years of the century. In 1955, TRIPOLI (who had been sold when Pat Payne went into the Service) was found by Charles in California. He also located and began acquiring as many of the other twenty or so straight Davenports then alive as he could. TRIPOLI‘s first Al Khamsa foals were born in 1957: TIZZY (out of ARABESQUE) and the straight Davenport stallion ARAMIS (out of DHALANA).