Into the desert

Word by Caroline Sussex photographer courtesy of the Syrian Arabian Horse Society

Thursday 26 April (continued)

The Conference session closed at lunchtime and guests were taken to Zaman Al khair Restaurant by kind invitation of Muhammad Hamsho for lunch and also a horse parade of the Seif Al Sham Equestrian Club and Al Ghabra stud. here, a walkway ran through the middle of the restaurant and we viewed the horses while eating lunch. Some of these horses had been crossed with Egyptian bloodlines, mainly from the Ansata Stud, but the majority of them were pure Syrian horses.

The first thing that struck many of us was the excellent short cannons and good, straight legs, good shoulders and withers with more substantial bodies than many of the show horses of today. The stallion Dinar a Ma’anagi Sbeyli cropped up in pedigrees throughout the trip and he is obviously an important sire in Syria. We saw three stallions by Swedan (Shweimet Sabbah) and they all showed the strngth in the legs, body and set-on of head. The rear ends were strong too.

Swedan carried the very good strain of kheilan krush that the Blunts sought. Two favorites here were Shams Al Ghabra of Hamdanieh Simerieh strain (Fawaz x Sultanet Al Keil) who also had strains (lines) to keheilan Ajuz on both sire and dam side, who had Shammar blood as well as local bloodlines. It will be interesting to see how this stud develops in time.

The next stop was the Basel Al Assad National Stud which had been set up in memory of the son of the late President of Syria and brother to the current President, Dr Bashar Assad. The beautiful mare Marmar (kehileh Haifieh), Mainly of Shammer breeding, was much admired as was the mare Gharaam (Basil x Ghorbah) of Hamdaniet Ibn Ghorab, also mainly Shammar. The keheileh memrahieh mare, ghamamah, struck many of us with her lovely style as did Wardet As Sabah known as the queen of Beauty in Syria, of the Keheileh Jaethnieh Strain. The horses here race and take part in shows. The chestnut filly lain Al Sahra by Majd (by Basil) out of Leiali Al Samr (Hamdaniet Ibn Ghorab Strain) was a stunning mover and the impressive bay stallion Majd by Basil out of Mayadah (Keheilan Haifi strain) of, again, mainly Shammar breeding sired a beautiful bay filly that we all wanted to take home. Another son of Basil, Layth Al Arab, showed again the excellent leg conformation. The stallion Ma’roof was also presrnted, a half-brother to Majd but by Mehrez, although his movement was not as extreme as Majd’s Next out was Ya-teem (Keheilan Al Radbah strain) of the Tai tribe and another very good Mayadeh son Mua’l-lah, a shestnut. What a wonderful base for the stud and this is exciting for Syrian horses and breeders.

Despite some tiredness, dinner that night was not to be missed in Old Damascus as out coaches were accompanied by police escort right into the tunnels of the Souks. I was not surprised when we eventually had to walk the final few steps and how the coaches got out, I will never know! The Al Fadi and Al Jammel Stables had invited us to dinner in the Khan Asa’ad Baha, originally a hotel but in the shapr of a mosque where we were feasted with live Arabic music, folk dancing (including a beautiful wedding dance) and then the amazing whirling dervishes, who put themselves into a trance to ensure they do not go dizzy with their quite stunning swirling routine. The building itself was really old and we were honoured to be allowed to be entertained on this amazing place.

Friday 27 April

Friday was full day of the Conference meeting.

The WAHO trophy for every country and been very well accepted and received by all. Dr Hans Nagel, the Chairman, reported to the Conference on his discussions that were ongoing with America.

He’d had many meeting’s in America and thought that there could be an agreement with WAHO, but it was essential that America accepted the WAHO definition in totality.

The American argument had been that some stud books contained horses that were unacceptable to the US Registry. Dr Nagel told the Conference that he was pleased to say that these horses had now been registered as pure-breds. However, there were still a very small number of horses that America would not accept and although North America had signed an agreement with South America over accepting stud books, they would not sign up to the WAHO definition as there were still 10 horses that were not acceptable. Dr Nagel said that he would keep negotiating and there was applause for this as it was felt that America was such an important country of Arabian horses and WAHO really hoped that they would come back as a full member.

Kina Murray updated the Conference on the WAHO database and she thanked all those countries who had sent in their information. She stressed it was not a World Stud Book, but that it would be very useful for registries in the future. She asked the delegated whether they thought is worthwhile putting online the information that had been obtained, even though there are many issues that still need much work. The Conference felt it was worth putting up information that had been received so far and therefore making it available for people.