Davenport Arabian Horses — Some Perspectives

by Jerry J. Embry, M.D.
The Arabian Horse Journal, April 1982

An old adage goes “There is nothing better for the inside of a man than the outside of a horse.” In this age of pressures and uncertainties, even fears, for some of us there is something fundamentally restorative to the human spirit in our association with horses. This is true whether one is in the barn with a foaling mare or in the saddle attempting to master the classic rules of the past which are forever necessary to good riding.

Kamil Ibn Salan

My association with horses began in 1966 when I decided to buy a first riding horse. I was engaged in my psychiatric training at the University of Colorado Medical Center in Denver and thought the Colorado countryside would be a fine place to ride. I mentioned this in passing to one of my supervisors, Dr. Fred Mimmack, who was, unbeknownst to me, a very knowledgeable horseman, and he suggested that instead of buying I take riding lessons from a European dressage master who had located in the area. That was only the first of many pieces of good advice from Fred as I entered the world of horses. Fred subsequently introduced me to the Arabian horse and particularly to the Davenport lines. During my stay in Colorado he obtained the Davenport stallion KAMIL-IBN-SALAN and explained the significance of his Bedouin origins. He also sold me DAHN, a Half-Arab mare, which I bred to KAMIL-IBN-SALAN in 1968 before moving to Knoxville, Tennessee. At that time my interest was in riding rather than in any particular breed of horse, but Fred’s Davenports, and especially KAMIL-IBN-SALAN, made impressions that would greatly influence my later direction.

In Knoxville, I boarded DAHN at Penrose, Farm, a hunter- oriented barn, and tried to learn something about jumping. Although the Arabian horse was not a part of that scene, my interest in the Arab persisted and there were trips to nearby states to see the Davenport stallions OBERON, now owned by Christa-Marie and Harry Grier in North Carolina, and SUNNY ACRES DARIUS who was a full brother to Fred’s mare MAEDAE. These horses, along with my memories of KAMIL-IBN-SALAN, contributed to a growing interest in obtaining an Arabian stallion which I would attempt to train and ride. I communicated this interest to Fred and he advised that I visit Charles Craver’s farm where he said I would find the greatest number of correct moving horses anywhere. So, in 1971 my wife Suzanne and I made our first trip to the Craver farm. As we drove in, the first sight before our eyes was the four-year-old stallion MONSOON, turned into a paddock, who literally took our breath away with his extreme beauty, rich chestnut color, graceful movements and high spirits. He was absolutely beautiful and one of the most exciting horses I have ever seen. We soon met Charles Craver and spent a weekend that would influence our lives for many years to come. In addition to answering an excess of questions, Charles showed us his horses and even let me attempt to ride two of his trained stallions, TYBALT and PERICLES. Later Charles rode TYBALT from a brisk posting trot to a collected sitting trot and finally into a piaffe. This experience only stimulated further my desire to own an Arabian stallion and by now I knew he should be a Davenport.

Sometimes things just get out of hand, and we eventually wanted to breed Davenports on a small scale. There were more trips to Craver Farm and in 1973 the purchase of a weanling colt by DHARANAD out of CERES, which we named ODYSSEUS. Charles had interested us in strain breeding and since we intended to stay small the idea of concentrating our efforts within the Kuhaylan strain was appealing. ODYSSEUS is a second generation pure-in-strain Kuhaylan Hayfi and later Charles helped us locate two young mares, NEBLINA and LUZ-DEL-SOL, also second generation Kuhaylan Hayfiyahs for our foundation.

While time passed and these youngsters matured we raised several nice part Arabs out of DAHN, and by 1975 our son Jim, then seven, began riding. This began our family involvement with the Tennessee Valley Pony Club. Jim rode a mixed breed hunter pony until two years ago when he started the training of NEBLINA. Jim and NEBLINA have done very well in the company of accomplished riders, most of whom are mounted on talented and experienced ponies and horses. Among their accomplishments were a first place in the Individual D level, 14 years and over, in the U.S. Pony Club Mid-South Regional Rally held in middle Tennessee in July, and an eighth place in a large field of Junior Pre-training entries in the Penrose Horse trials in October. To top off the year, NEBLINA won the Tenessee Valley Pony Club’s Large Pony Championship for the 1980 season. Although she is a fine athlete, NEBLINA’S wonderful Davenport disposition has contributed greatly to her rapid progress. Meanwhile, Jim’s younger sister Christine is riding Jim’s first pony and should soon be ready for an Arab.

Most of ODYSSEUS’ training has been flat work but I recently have begun some jumping lessons with him and I hope to event him by next fall. Our family’s equestrian interest is primarily in the event type activities, which emphasize endurance, cross country over obstacles at speed, stadium jumping and dressage. At the levels appropriate to the Arab’s smaller size, we believe many Davenports to have excellent potential for these activities. We also love an occasional trail ride in our nearby beautiful Smokey Mountains. Our Pony Club activities are mostly done within a few miles of home, at relatively modest expense. Even so, they take so much of our time, energy and money that we have not been very involved in the more traditional Arabian activities. As more nearby Arabian shows add dressage and hunter classes we may find it possible to participate on a small scale.

Meanwhile our modest breeding program has grown to five horses. LUZ-DEL-SOL has produced three foals by ODYSSEUS: the filly XANTHIPPE in 1977, the colt PUDDINTAME in 1978, and the colt TELLICO in 1979. They are uniform in type and all have plenty of quality. We are especially pleased that they are in motion what the Davenport horses have come to represent to us. In 1980 we took LUZ-DEL-SOL and XANTHIPPE to Craver Farm where LUZ was bred to BRIGANTINE and XANTHIPPE to BRIMSTONE. BRIMSTONE is an exciting, very acrobatic horse, who will add the blood of the Kuhaylan Krush strain, and Brigantine is an excellent example of the Kuhaylan Hayfi strain. Charles sent his mares DEMETRIA and SALLYPORT to ODYSSEUS for breeding but unfortunately only SALLYPORT settled. We are very eager to see the results of these matings.

We feel we are producing horses that are consistently balanced and athletic, of spirited yet gentle nature, and of classic, antique Arabian type. In addition to the obvious value of these highly prepotent, strain-bred animals for breeding purposes, they make very useful mounts and wonderful companions. For the appreciative rider, an Arabian stallion, with his personality and spirit entire, can be an exceptionally interesting and fun riding horse. I am certain these horses can be very competitive in areas traditionally dominated by Thoroughbreds in this country. Our mare NEBLINA has already received many comments of surprised praise from horsemen in the hunter and eventing ranks long prejudiced against the Arabian horse. Perhaps it should not be surprising that these horses, that once were so essential to the desert Bedouin’s strenuous way of life, are innately gifted for meeting the demands of today’s competitive sports.

Just as technology and mechanization earlier displaced the Arabian horses from its role in the desert, today entire species are threatened with extinction as their habitats give way to “civilization.” These are losses of tragic dimension. Thanks to the adventurous spirit of Homer Davenport 75 years ago, and to the foresight and dedication of Charles Craver, Fred Mimmack, and a few others, the Davenport Arabian horse barely escaped this fate. We are indeed fortunate.