the magic, the mystery and a third dimension into a pedigree
by Joe Ferriss
Strains can mean various things to many people. This I believe comes about because we can't readily see the tangible aspect of a strain through the separation of strain from pedigree. My thoughts are to look at strains original oral pedigrees of Eastern origin before the Western concept of written pedigrees. Therefore an intrinsic part of a pedigree as suggested in many readings / texts including The Abbas Pasha Manuscript (Sherif/Forbis). Some examples from texts can be found below. Traditional oral pedigrees can be compared to surnames of humans. With humans, the focus is on surnames extending to families and therefore you have family resemblances or not depending on the strength of the genetics of the individual. With the Arabian Horse, the emphasis is not on the male line, as in surnames for humans, but the female line ie the damline or tail-female.
In the same frame, Judith Forbis approaches the theory
of strains through her books Authentic Arabian Bloodstock and
somewhat in The Classic Arabian Horse. However, without
a confirmation on the original mares ie tail females, attributes can only
be guessed from the evidence presented many years later around the late
1800s onwards through the progeny of these mares and their families.
Collecting data from the Bedouin also helped clarify issues as well. As
has been noted by various authors who collectively attribute similar/same
nuances to strains through their individual research and/or collectively
However, considering when the scripts were written and
whenever Western travellers travelled into the desert in search of Arabians
in hope of obtaining a few good individuals to take away with them, one
had to not only translate but also transliterate. These transliterations/translations
proved and are still proving to be almost a stumbling block. A stumbling
block in as much as the spelling into English (and other languages) usually
came about from phonetic (sound) translations. Phonetic translations
was at the mercy of the ears and interpretations of the listener and their
subsequent scripting (spelling) capabilities. Spelling variations
come about through these translations. Along with the Arabic language,
as like French, has gender specific wording. There is gender specific
wording to focus on when dealing with strains, slight changes of spelling
of the feminine to the masculine form of the strain. Generic and
plural forms of strains I have only seen in Forbis' books - ie Al
Saqlawiyat, the generic name (Saklawi, Seglawi, Seglaoui, etc); Saqlawiyah
- feminine form; Saqlawi - masculine form; Saqlawiyat - plural form.
Sherbatov & Stroganov suggest
Essentially, breeders today are well aware of the limitations of a closed gene pool - which the Arabian Horse is. If the above table is close to reflecting the truth, then the gene pool is much tighter than possibly considered by many and can usually be verified through an extended pedigree check. The one point which is relevant to me, personally, is each of the subsequent progeny of these groups whilst in their original environments were survivors - they could do their tasks adequately within such a harsh environment. These survivors are the best examples of the Bedouin needs/wants relating to the Arabian Horse. Therefore it could well be said, strains should be paramount in selecting a breeding along with present day acceptance of the written pedigree. But as all breeders should know, pedigree (genotype) can suggest what an individual should look like (phenotype). However, phenotype doesn't allows follow/reflect genotype. And as per the human example in the first part of this note, phenotype/genotype can differ even within a single generation depending on nature's allocation of the genes. Starting their own families, having their own characteristics/attributes (as suggested and evidenced in J Forbis' book Authentic Arabian Horse with a most notable collection of photographs exampling strains). Nonetheless, in-breeding and line-breeding to the same "Al Khamsa / Asil" group of Arabian Horses (whether they be individuals or groups) through the limitation of the gene pool.
Regards the Pyramid Society (Straight Egyptian); Asil and Al Khamsa (amongst others) they selected horses which were readily traceable to be bred within a delineated area with the exclusion of noted invidual horses, explanations are usually given. Which basically at the inception of the founding rules generally excluded horses which were taken from the delineated areas and bred on in other countries, even though they were usually of desert bred stock. From a personal reflection, I have found this in turn makes it easier to trace these inviduals ancestry (strains/pedigree) as compared to the Arabians bred away from the area and less suspect of western breeders' perceptions aside of the Bedouin.
And as suggested through the text, although the strain name recognizes only the tail female, there can be a complex strain ancestry to any one individual! Which ever way its reviewed, strains can make for interesting reading. Along with the realisation just how precious the Arabian Horse is.
* Includes the Sagkheii clan, famous
for its Abeian Sherrak horses
The Bedouin horse breeders selected their foundation horses, and based their breeding decisions upon the individual preferences and needs of their tribes. As in any culture, different groups placed higher regard on certain traits over others, and therefore their focus reflected that emphasis. As a result, individual tribes developed their own 'identifying look' within their group of horses, which mirrored their respective regard and priority for traits. Some tribes stressed the importance of speed, others strength, courage, endurance or tractability of temperament. Still others focused on utter and absolute beauty. While all of these elements were of dire importance to each individual tribe, their particular concentration on any combination of these elements created what is known as strains. The particular characteristics of each strain are what defines them, and are authentic traits of the true desert bred Arabian horse.
The Sheykh Obeyd Foundation's Catalogue of Bloodlines 1996. p10 - The Eye of the Beholder
There are many references to strain breeding and examples of strain bred Arabians within various books, magazines and websites.
Here a few directions...
Arabian Resource Centre: History & Heritage of the Arabian Horse Horse of the Desert Bedouin pp2-4
Bowling, M. Strained Relations
Craver, J & Craver C, Strains and Strain Types
Craver, C.C. 1991 Corallaries of Strain Breeding, Arabian Visions, March Parts I & II
Davenport, H., 1909 My Quest of the Arabian Horse, New York, Darcy's Place: Roomfuls of Davenport Arabians.
Ferriss, J., Strains and Strain-Types, Sheykh Obeyd World, pp12-16
Ferriss, J., Putting a "Strain" on an Old Subject, Sheykh Obeyd World pp23-25
Forbis, J 1990 Arabian Strains and Families, Authentic Arabian Bloodstock, Ansata Publications, Mena, Arkansas pp141-252
Forbis, J Strains
Nagel, H.J., 1998 Hanan The Story of an Arabian Mare and of the Arabian Breed, Alexander Heriot & Co Ltd., Cheltenham, England.
Pritzlaff, R., A Perspective on Carl Raswan From His Writings, Sheykh Obeyd World pp21-24
Wentworth, J.A.D.B-L, (Baroness) 1945 The authentic Arabian horse and his descendants, George Allen & Unwin, London, England
Whitman, D.S., The Strain of it All, American Arabian Online pp1-3
Wilkinson, C., Articles Page - Mu'niqi Strain Preservation, The Pasha Institute.