The Part Davenport Arabians: The Pride of American Breeding

By Carol Lyons, copyright 1988
Used by permission of Carol Lyons
Arabian Visions May 1988
all rights reserved

Chances are that your own Arabians trace to several of the Davenport imports — unless you have a specialized “foreign” breeding program such as pure Polish, straight Egyptian or Spanish. These Davenport ancestors are the special and distinguishing ingredient in American pedigrees that make our Arabians the best in the world!

In 1980 and again in 1984, Jeanne Craver did a random sampling survey of the current stud books and determined that approximately 85 percent to 90 percent of foals with at least one parent born in the USA trace to Davenport bloodlines at an average level of about 12 percent. It is not just the small, backyard breeders that have utilized part Davenports as foundation animals. Part Davenport Arabians are also cleaning up at the shows, and as leading sires and champion producing broodmares. In 1984, the Arabian Horse World did a study of the horses winning the 225 Champion and Reserve Champion and Top Ten awards in both Halter and Performance classes at the 1983 National Championship show. That survey also analyzed the pedigrees of the “leading sire” list. Using only those horses that had at least one parent bred in the United States, their survey showed that 88 percent of the show winners traced to Davenport lines, while 86 percent of the leading sires with at least one parent born here traced to Davenports. (Many, if not most of the other horses included in the statistics were of straight Polish or Egyptian ancestry, but since they had a parent bred in the USA they were included.) The influence of Davenport ancestry continues to be evident at all the national and local shows. The 1987 National Champion and Reserve National mare all carry numerous lines to Davenport imports, on both sides of their pedigrees.

A very brief review of the history of the Davenport Arabians in the USA will help to show the spread and influence of these horses. In 1906, when Homer Davenport, with the financial help of Peter Bradley, imported 27** Bedouin bred horses from the desert, there were already 75 Arabians in this country. (**Only 23 were registered.) Most of the Arabians already here were either imported from, or were descendants of horses imported from England, mostly of Crabbet (Blunt & Ali Pasha bloodlines) breeding. There were also a few survivors of the Hamidie importation. All but one of which were owned by Davenport and/or Bradley. Up until the early to mid 1920’s, the Arabian breeders were few and although they were mostly on the East coast, they tended to develop their own programs more or less independently of each other. Imagine hauling horses with a circa 1920 vehicle! Homer Davenport and Peter Bradley didn’t use the Spenser Borden or W.R. Brown horses, and the reverse was also true. When Peter Bradley began dispersing his Davenport horses, several were sold to the midwest, while others went to California. In 1925, the Kellogg Arabian Ranch in California was founded with 10 straight Davenports (including the stallions Jadaan, Antez, Letan) and five horses of 75 percent Davenport ancestry. A year later, Kellogg imported 15 horses from the Crabbet Stud in England in 1929, after touring Arabian breeding farms in the east. Kellogg purchased four more Davenport mares and the eight-year-old Davenport stallion, Hanad, together with seven high percentage Davenports.

The stage had now been set for blending together the best of the Davenport and Crabbet bloodlines, both at the Kellogg Ranch and elsewhere. At the Kellogg Ranch, the Davenports were bred to each other periodically, as were the Crabbet horses, but a common pattern was to breed the newly imported mares to Kellogg’s Davenport stallions Antez or Jadaan, and especially Hanad. The Davenport mares were frequently bred to the imported stallions *Nasik, *Raseyn and *Ferdin. These were highly successful crosses, in both first and subsequent generations.

The Kellogg Davenport mares and their descendants have left their mark on the breed. Many of America’s most influential broodmares and Halter/Performance horses and top sires trace to these mares’ pedigrees. One could probably write a book on this subject alone. To keep this as brief as possible the following is a broad survey of the impact of the Davenport stallions owned by Kellogg. Of the famous Davenport stallions at Kellogg’s, Letan was 17 when purchased. He was used exclusively on Davenport and part Davenport mares, but many of his get were crossed with Arabs of English ancestry. He was the top stock horse of his day, and many of his descendants display his athletic ability and extreme alertness.

While at Kellogg’s, Jadaan did much to popularize the Arabian horse. He appeared in several movies including “Son of the Sheik” starring Rudolph Valentino, and also took part in the Rose Parade. Although he sired only 21 foals, he is well represented in modern pedigrees, especially via his daughters.

Antez, who was closely related to Hanad, was used primarily on mares of Davenport ancestry before being sold to Dickenson’s Travelers Rest Arabian ranch in 1931. He got several foals there before being sold to Poland, where he was a highly successful sire of racing Arabs. When the war broke out in Europe, he was re-imported to the USA, ending his life back in California under the ownership of Herbert Reese, long time manager of the Kellogg Ranch. Almost two-thirds of Antez’s foals were born after his return from Poland. (Two Antez foals out of Polish mares were imported. Of them *Latif was a popular sire. His descendants remaining in Poland were all lost during the wars.) Antez was noted for his extraordinary intelligence and disposition as well as his racing ability, which he passed to his offspring.

Hanad was the star of the Kellogg Sunday programs, where he performed as a five gaited horse, did the Spanish walk and other tricks such as jumping rope. He was a born show horse and exceptional sire. In Halter classes, Hanad routinely defeated *Raseyn, as did Antez. His descendents inherited his marvelous disposition and attitude, and excellent conformation. Hanad was sold in 1936 to a man in Texas where he sired the stallion Hanrah, among others. At age 23, he was purchased by Alice Payne and returned to California. Twenty of his 52 foals were born during his last three years of life, including the leading broodmare Hanida, and the straight Davenport stallion, Tripoli.

American breeders recognized a good thing when they saw it. For thirty years they blended the Davenports with Arabians of other bloodlines, producing the best horse of their era. By 1955, there were only 25 living straight Davenports. Between 1925 and 1945 there were several large importations from England, Egypt, Poland, Spain, and from France, Syria and Arabia as well. Since the early 1960’s thousands of Arabians have been imported. It is therefore, not at all surprising that most of the relatively small number of Davenports were assimilated into the mainstream of Arabian breeding in America. Perhaps it is more surprising that the Davenport bloodlines are still represented in nearly 90 percent of American breeding! The obvious reason lies in the success of the early outcrosses, and in the positive benefits which were not diminished in subsequent generations. American breeders have continued to build on the foundation of these bloodlines in which Davenports played a prominent part.

In order to tie these horses to more modern pedigrees, it is helpful to review the breeding records of famous non-Davenports. No one can deny the tremendous impact that the Crabbet (Wentworth) bred *Raseyn and *Raffles have had on Arabian breeding in North America. Their influence is profound. *Raseyn sired 135 foals, yet his best known and most enduringly influential descendants, both mares and stallions, almost invariably carry multiple crosses to the Kellogg Davenports. (Example: Ferzon was 14 percent Davenport.) *Raseyn’s best known son was the straight Crabbet Ferseyn. It is rare to find a successful Ferseyn descendant without Davenport ancestors in their pedigrees. (The nick between Davenports and horses of the Crabbet Farida line such as Ferseyn and Farana is really quite remarkable.)

*Raffles was imported in 1926 and sired 96 foals, mostly for midwest and Eastern breeders. Of his six best known and influential sons, Garaff, Raffden, Handeyraff and Sotep were out of mares of 46.8 percent to 21.8 percent Davenport ancestry. (A grandparent represents 25 percent of a pedigree.)

The *Berk son Ribal is another famous sire of Crabbet breeding. Although no longer significant in the sire line, his influence in the breed is strong, especially through three outstanding offspring, Caravan, Wardat Badiya and Bint Sedjur. Caravan and Wardat Badiya, were out of the straight Davenport mares Fasal and Babe Azab respectively. Bint Sedjur, was out of a 75 percent Davenport mare. Bint Sedjur is the dam of Bint Sahara who is still the all time leading producer of Champions. The Spanish Arabians imported in 1934 by James Draper crossed exceptionally well with Caravan.

Another well known “all English” sire is Abu Farwa. Many of his descendents have a fair portion of Davenport ancestry, often via Antez or the part Davenport, Alla Amarward. Gazi was probably Abu Farwa’s best known son, and he made his reputation primarily through his get out of Feyn, a 40.6 percent Davenport mare and the Antez granddaughter, Wahida.

Arabians of English ancestry were not the only ones which nicked well with the Davenports. *Fadl, a Babson imported straight Egyptian, sired 74 foals of which 30 were straight Egyptian. By far, his best known and most influential grandson was Fadjur, out of Bint Sahara mentioned above. In turn Fadjur’s best nicks were with the 25 percent Davenport mare Saki, the 34 percent Davenport mare Vans Natta and her 36 percent Davenport daughter Ferr-Natta. Of more recent vintage, *Bask’s National Champion daughter, Fame and her full brother, The Judge (National Champion Park horse), are out of the 47 percent Davenport mare Wirda Jameel.

These examples would serve to point out how well the Davenport bloodlines have blended with Arabians of diverse ancestry, and give readers insight into the pedigrees of their own Arabians.

Successful breeders seek out those individuals which compliment each other in type and conformation. And of course everyone looks for the “magic nick.” Studying the patterns of both successful and not so successful Arabian breeding of the past 80 years, it soon becomes obvious that we have often been a nation of fad breeders, and the import asterisk has held a special fascination. However, past history indicates that the current popularity of a stallion may or may not lead to his having a lasting influence on the breed. For any individual horse, or group of horses to have a lasting effect he, she or they must be able to blend well with animals of other bloodlines. Historically, the horses with the ability to breed on for multiple generations have proved to be those which are combined with a fairly high percentage of Davenport ancestry.

One may well ask what specific traits might be expected from a Davenport or high percentage Davenport cross. Most recognizable breeding groups have some trait for which they are particularly well known: the Polish for action and long necks, the Egyptians and Spanish for pretty heads, the Crabbet horses for substance and attractive, though not extreme heads. People who see a group of straight Davenports for the first time will notice their huge, expressive eyes, and then the placement of the eyes. Not only are they wide apart, they are usually set so low as to be within an inch of the midway point from the poll and the top of the nostrils. (This low eye placement no doubt accounts for their large cranial boxes and perhaps for their intelligence.) They are also wide between the jowls, a necessary feature for free passage of air. As a group, Davenports are extraordinarily well balanced in body proportions. They are fine skinned and their coats often have an iridescent sheen (without benefit of enhancers). In action, they exhibit exceptionally free shoulder movement and powerful use of the hindquarters and hocks. their dispositions are unsurpassed. They seem to delight in pleasing their owners and trainers.

In the outcross, perhaps their greatest contribution has been and still is their extreme ability to enhance the best traits, and correct weak points of the non-Davenport bloodlines, while adding a certain recognizable style. Eye size and placement is improved, as is coat quality, and action. Disposition is probably one of the most heritable traits in horses and Davenport ancestry helps to assure sensible and trainable dispositions.

In a closed breeding herd, a reasonably observant person can easily pick out individuals with as little as 1.5 percent to 3 percent outcross bloodlines. In establishing commercial livestock registries five top crosses or more (at least 96.5 percent of the pedigree) are often deemed necessary to diminish the influence of the outcross. From this it is easy to see that even 6 percent to 12 percent Davenport ancestry is well within the range of influence, especially when it appears on both sides of a pedigree. However, it is also true that desirable Davenport traits such as huge, well placed eyes and balanced conformation can and have been covered up by inappropriate crosses. Chances are that these seemingly lost traits could be reestablished rather easily. Like yeast added to dough to make a bread better, like the Chromium alloy added to regular steel to produce the superior stainless steel, Davenport ancestors in an otherwise good pedigree only make it better.

For economic reasons as well as anything else, imported horses have been in the forefront of Arabian breeding for the past 20 years. Some of these imported horses have been of exceptional quality, but most have not. With the collapse of some segments of the “Arabian stock market” in recent years, I suppose that some people will rush out to buy the now “cheap” foreign horses, thinking they are getting a bargain. Maybe they will get a bargain, probably they won’t. Hopefully there will be a return to the time when people had Arabians for their own personal enjoyment. It isn’t necessary to have a horse of “straight” breeding stock in order to produce Champions. The part Davenport Arabian, the best in the world is still here for us to love and care for, to breed and to show. They are truly the Pride of American Breeding.

Among the famous Arabian stallions of part Davenport ancestry not already mentioned, you will find Kimfa, Tsatyr and Bay Abi, Khemosabi, and Ibn Hanrah while other influential or famous mares include Mi-Fanci, Jurneeka, Fersara, and Sunny Acres Papaya and many, many others.