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