The DreamMaker...


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My passion for the beauty, history and mystique of
Straight Egyptian Arabians--transformed into your reality.

 Straight Egyptian Arabian Horse Consultant

CREATING AN EGYPTIAN ARABIAN BREEDING PROGRAM;
8 Steps to Perpetuating a Legacy
                                                                                                                                                                  by Caryn Rogosky
INTRODUCTION:
 
The magnetism of horse breeding draws people for countless reasons, ranging from the desire for an enjoyable investment, to the fulfillment of complex human needs. Sigmund Freud loved this subject, believing that the "horse" was the subconscious symbol of many deep, human characteristics. Throughout recorded history and in every culture in the world, the horse has served as the archetype of strength, vitality, courage, beauty, resiliency and spiritual goodness. The image of the horse has been an inspiration for artists and poets from time immemorial. 
 
I remember once spotting a magnificent silk kimono hanging on display in the office of a collector of antiques. The back of the kimono was painted with the image of a beautiful white horse, Arabian in type, charging forward with nostrils wide open and fire in his eyes. I couldn't take my eyes off it and the owner, seeing my expression of awe, came over to tell me about his great treasure. He explained that in ancient China, it was the practice of gentlemen to have the image of what they believed to be their "alter ego" imprinted on the backs of their kimonos. Amazingly, this was never seen by anyone but the wearer, as the image was worn to the inside, close to the body. The purpose of this was to remind the wearer always, of his true nature, his spiritual self, expressed in the form of an animal. The horse was one of he most revered of all, considered a creature of high spiritual evolution.

As an artist and designer, I can imagine no purer, no more powerful form of expression than the re-creation of such an incredible form of beauty as the Arabian horse, one that has managed to transcend the ravages of time. An endeavor which combines such a high form of artistic expression with a lifelong love and respect for animals has been for me, the perfect obsession. Regardless of what personal interests inspire us to become horse breeders, that decision will most surely impact not only our personal lives, but to some extent, the future of the Arabian breed. For this is not a simple "hobby" which can be be taken lightly, as we must never forget that when we take it upon ourselves to bring a mare to a stallion - when we orchestrate a mating, we are causing a life to be created... an awesome and sobering responsibility. To best insure that this new life will enter the world with the best possible advantages for survival, important choices are required. To prepare for these choices, breeders should actively educate ourselves to the highest degree possible, as to all the criteria which makes a horse "most desirable", including physical conformation and type ideals, as well as pedigree research and analysis.  The assistance of a professional consultant on Egyptian Arabians, who is knowledgeable and experienced in both the art and the science of breeding these highly unique Arabians, is strongly recommended. Such counsel can mean the difference between starting out with mediocre foundation stock, which may take many years and many generations of breeding to upgrade, and starting out with the very finest quality individuals available, whose inheritable traits are known for reproducing themselves with outstanding consistency. High quality breeding stock who carry genetic prepotency provide both short and long term promise for producing highly desirable, marketable, offspring. In the long term, the latter option is far more financially effective, rewarding and enjoyable. 
 
1. IDENTIFY YOUR IDEAL:
If you are considering becoming an Arabian horse breeder, you should prepare yourself for an exciting and sometimes challenging journey. The best place to start is in your own mind and heart - for this is, after all, about turning a fabulous fantasy into a flesh and blood reality. There is more than one type of beauty, more than one style of Egyptian Arabian horse which is both correct and highly regarded. What is it, specifically, that triggers your passion? Is it the soft expression in the eyes, the high arch of the neck, the proud carriage of the tail? Do you find yourself most drawn to an exotically chiseled head, finely sculpted and tapering to the tiniest muzzle? Perhaps you prefer a shorter, broader head with big round eyes and classic beauty? Are you more attracted to a smaller, compact horse or do you prefer a taller, more stretchy type? Is your personal ideal bold and snorty, or is it tranquil and serene? Do you see yourself sitting upon its back, enjoying a peaceful ride through the woods, or do you see it exploding into a show ring, captivating all who watch? Perhaps you see both! Whatever it is about that image that makes you hold your breath, that makes your heart pound harder, recognize it. Then begin to study it closely, to pinpoint the origins of that ideal.  See that image of your personal ideal in your mind; examine it, analyze it... remember it.
 

2. FEEL THE PASSION:
It is impossible to separate the essence of the Egyptian Arabian horse from his history. To attempt to breed without some connection to where and how this horse originated and regenerated, would be to strip away the very essence of this iconic creature, skillfully nurtured and perpetuated by his earliest known breeder -- the Bedouin nomad. Without his passion, we can't hope to recreate his dream. Without his sacrifice, we have no right to expect the rewards. The writings of early travelers to the Arabian peninsula provide an open window to the Bedouin horse breeding environment of a bygone era. By allowing oneself to absorb the philosophy of the Bedouin, to see these horses through his eyes, one can cultivate a sense of what he recognized as the quintessence of his horse, of what traits he valued most highly. Read the works of Lady Anne Blunt and Carl Raswan and others who learned firsthand about the visions, goals and practices of the horse breeding Bedouin nomad. Visit the book stands at Arabian horses shows, read archived articles in Al Khamsa and The Pyramid Society 
publications ...anything you can get your hands on regarding the history of the Egyptian Arabian horse. This is complex subject and the importance of study should not be underestimated. 
 

3. IDENTIFY THE SOURCE -- GENOTYPE AND PHENOTYPE:
Pour through books, not just popular magazines, but real books! One of the best books to start with is "Authentic Arabian Bloodstock" by Judith Forbis. Here you can acquire a visual concept of how pedigree translates into living creature. Study the strains, understand the differences. See how the characteristics of each strain can manifest themselves in progressive generations. This is Genotype. Look at the families; see how some seem to be extremely consistent in re-creating certain characteristics, good and bad. Read about the original importation's to the U.S. and get a feeling for how these groups, often closely related prior to their leaving Egypt, developed their own signature look based upon the eye and the philosophy of each individual breeder. Also, familiarize yourself with those bloodlines that are being perpetuated in Europe, Egypt and the Middle East. Look at the Babson group, the Brown group, the Pritzlaff group, the Ansata group, the Gleannloch group. Look at the original horses that formed the foundations of each herd, and observe the legacies that they have left, many generations forward. This is best accomplished by visiting serious breeding farms and seeing and touching the produce of their breeding programs.
 
Before finally assembling my own herd, l was fortunate to visit many outstanding breeding farms, and to see with my own eyes, touch with my own hands, the creations of years of work and study. I was able to walk through the pastures of Rancho San Ignacio, and see the Pritzlaff horses while the herd was still intact. I visited Ansata, several times, and could clearly see the purpose and vision which was being perpetuated there. I came to know with the Babson horses at Masada, who were being preserved both as an individualized breeding group and combined with Ansata Ibn Halima and Sirecho. I was able to see and experience rare animals whose parentage comprises the keystones for true Arabian breeding. I visited many other farms, large and small, near and far, where Polish, Egyptian and domestic bred Arabians were being raised. All of these visits were fruitful, for each time I came away knowing more than I knew when I arrived. Each time, my own ideal became more crystallized, and I had a better understanding how to achieve it.
 
Once your eye becomes cultivated, you will be better able to distinguish certain prominent characteristics and match them up to their contributing ancestors. Research the philosophies of each of the breeders you are studying, for this is the key to understanding their breeding choices. The physical character which is expressed in those individuals is their Phenotype. The specific genetic contributions, responsible for that physical character, is their Genotype. What look is most appealing to you? What philosophy rings truest, fitting most comfortably into your own ideals and values? Once you understand what it is you're looking to achieve, you can begin to formulate your own individual philosophy, the underpinnings of any sound structure. You will also begin to master the connection between Genotype and Phenotype.

4. LEARN CORRECT CONFORMATION:
While Arabian horse breeding is subjective by definition; there is a universal ideal upon which to draw.
It is critical to know and to recognize that ideal in order to preserve this ancient breed with any degree of integrity and authenticity. Some years ago "Inside International" (IAHA) magazine published within an issue, "A Judges Guide to Conformation". This is an excellent detailed visual guide to what an ideal Arabian should look like. The Pyramid Society has offered seminars on judging in conjunction with the Egyptian Event, and the work-book that was issued contained an excellent section on conformation. These are but two examples of resources which provide excellent information on the proper conformation of ARABIAN horses.

It is my opinion that trendy fads have no rightful place in a serious breeding program. Those who believe that Arabians would look better if they had necks more like those of the Saddlebred, or height more like that of the Thoroughbred, would be well advised to consider getting involved with a different breed of horse. There is plenty of room for expression of personal preference and style while staying within the parameters of the breed standards for correct type and conformation.
 
5. CHOOSE YOUR SIGNATURE LOOK:
This brings us back to the issue of individual preference. Presuming you have now acquired a good understanding of Genotype and Phenotype as well as a working knowledge of Arabian type and correct conformation, it's time to go back to your original vision and look at it more closely. Your vision should be much more detailed now; you should be able to describe it clearly. What specific characteristics will you focus on? How will people define your horses as time goes by? Once you have answered those questions, the next phase is narrowing down the specific families from which to select your foundation horses. When you've determined the look you want, and the families which will produce that look, it's time to start searching for the specific individuals that will not only best express those characteristics (Phenotype), but will also have the genetic power to reproduce them (Genotype).

6. SEARCHING FOR INDIVIDUALS:
The Pyramid Society's Straight Egyptian Reference Handbooks are invaluable sources from which you can locate certain individuals, going back many years.  Usually a few well-placed phone calls can set you on the track of just the right stallion or mare. Breeders are usually only too happy to talk about their favorite bloodlines and their favorite individuals. A word here about integrity; it is important to emphasize the value of good council. There is, without question, as much variety in types of horse breeders, as there are types of horses. Contrary to what a romantic heart would have us believe, the title of "Arabian Horse Breeder" is not always synonymous with "integrity". It's very easy for a novice to become side-tracked by a fast-talking "horse trader".  Ask many questions and listen carefully to the answers. Reputations are important; my experience has been that where there is smoke, there is usually fire. Honesty is recognized within this community and so is dishonesty. Take your time, and narrow down your choices. Today, many horses are purchased based on pedigree and video information. The vast geographic distances between Egyptian breeders frequently makes first hand inspection prohibitive. Still, this is the best option if at all possible, especially if you aren't experienced with the differences between amateur and professional videos. Both are helpful, but it's important to know what to expect from each. It is wise to work with a knowledgeable Egyptian Arabian horse consultant in selecting foundation horses. A good consultant will take the time to learn your preferences, your goals, and your budget. The value of such assistance will be immeasurable in navigating through the virtual of ocean of available horses, and for securing highly important information prior to making financial commitments. 

 
 
7. CREATING THE FOUNDATION HERD:
The standard advice for new breeders is to purchase a few good mares, and breed them to good, outside stallions. This is certainly sound reasoning, yet I must say that I can't fully agree. It just depends on what you are fortunate enough to find out there. If you find the rare and perfect stallion to fulfill your dreams, it may be wise to snatch him up while you can. Of course this will depend greatly on your experience in handling horses, and your facilities as well. If you can manage on both counts, consider this: rarely is a breeding program identified with the leading mare-it is always the stallion that sets the identity of the breeder. This has nothing to do with the specific genetic contribution of the stallion over the mare. However, your mare produces one foal a year; your stallion will breed most of your mares, thereby infusing your entire foal crop with his blood...and his character traits.
 

ALWAYS OPT FOR QUALITY ABOVE QUANTITY.  For any breeder, it is far better to have two truly outstanding mares than 10 mediocre mares. While average foals cost as much to feed and care for as top quality foals, the prices they will bring will vary dramatically. It doesn't require higher mathematics to realize that to spend two thousand dollars to produce one foal which will sell for $15,000 or more, is far more profitable than to spend six thousand dollars on three foals which will sell for $2.000 or less each. Not only is the former scenario more profitable, it's much less stressful! 
 

8. BREED JUDICIOUSLY AND OBJECTIVELY:
At the moment we breed the mare to the stallion, we already can envision the resulting “perfect filly" running through our pastures just 11 months later. Hopefully, if we've done our homework and made smart choices, we'll be thrilled with what we get, filly or colt. There is nothing in this world more precious, more adorable than an Arabian Foal. We are completely enamored with them, and sometimes we can only see them through the eyes of love. It's a good idea, especially with the first couple of foal crops, to get the unbiased opinion of a trusted, unbiased consultant to confirm what your eyes and heart are telling you. Careful and honest scrutiny of one's own herd is probably the most important factor involved in the ultimate success in breeding. The market is a cruelly honest place and only top quality, regardless of bloodlines, can be expected to demand top prices. Remember that despite fluctuating market demands, the cream rises to the top, and there is always a market for the rarest and the finest.

Considering the great effort it takes just get to the point of seeing that first foal running through your pasture, it's not surprising that many breeders don't make it past the first 5 years. This is a business of extremes; we ride the see-saw between euphoric elation and crushing disappointment... we bring precious new life into the world and we bury treasured friends. It's up and down, joy and sorrow, profit and loss. Many breeders come, and many leave.. But for those who have "been called", there really is no choice; it's just what we do. So if you are willing to make the sacrifice, to answer the calling, then know that it's not easy... but then nothing truly worthwhile ever is, and the rewards can be measured only by the fulfillment of your heart, your spirit, and the contribution you can make to history.
  
 
 
Article updated 2015, reproduction of any kind without written permission of Caryn Rogosky is prohibited.

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