Author: Arlene Magid

Many newcomers, and even people who have been involved with Arabians for a while, are puzzled by pedigree terminology. What is a fourth dam? A taproot mare? A foundation sire? A family strain??? Why do some horses have asterisks in front of their names, and symbols or abbreviations after their names? As an example we will use the pedigree of U.S. and Canadian National Champion Stallion and Western Pleasure Champion Khemosabi++++, the breed's most popular sire of all time and its leading living sire of champions.

The Sire Line
The top part of a pedigree tracing through the sire, to his sire, to his sire and so forth is termed "the sire line". This ends in the foundation sire, who is the penultimate horse to whom the sire line traces. In the case of Arabians, this would be a desertbred horse whose parents are not named. Examples of foundation sires are: Ibrahim (Poland), founder of the Skowronek sire line, *Mirage (from whom the great Varian breeding program descends), and Saklawi I (Egypt) from whom Nazeer's line comes.

The sons of a foundation sire form the branches of the sire line (think of a tree with branches extending from its central trunk). Khemosabi++++'s sire line is that of Ibrahim, from Poland, tracing through Ibrahim's son Skowronek. It is marked in red on the pedigree chart that accompanies this article. Sometimes a sire line does not survive in male descent. In this instance, it is a sire line that is said to exist "through the middle of the pedigree" as it is found only in females.
Of course, this means that it is extinct as a sire line per se. An example of a sire line that is no longer active except through its female descendants is that of Khemosabi++++'s maternal granddam *Szarza. Her sire Ali Said sired 22 get, 10 of them male. His only son to sire foals was Emir Said, and of his 12 get, the two sons did not breed on, thus rendering the Ali Said line extinct as a sire line, though still prominent in pedigrees today (three of his daughters were imported to America and all produced National winners or National winner producers, for example).

In Arabians, the tail female line(also called the dam line or family) is considered to be of special significance as mares were so prized by the Bedouins. The tail female line descends through the dam, her dam (the granddam), to the taproot mare, which is always a desertbred mare. Examples of taproot mares would be the Davenport import *Urfah, the Blunts' Rodania in England, and Milordka in Poland. Breeders often refer to the third dam, the fourth dam, etc.
These "numbered" dams indicate how many generations back they are from the horse whose pedigree is being read. The second dam is the granddam, the third dam is the great-granddam, the fourth dam the great-great-granddam, etc. Khemosabi+++'s dam line is indicated in blue on the pedigree chart. His dam is Jurneeeka++, his second dam is Fadneeka, his third dam is Raneeka, his fourth dam is Monica, and his fifth dam is Sankirah. Khemosabi++++'s taproot mare is *Wadduda, of the 1906 Davenport importation from the desert.

Intriguingly, his dam's sire Fadjur also traces to *Wadduda in tail female, so *Wadduda is the tail female of both sides of the dam side of his pedigree. The sire of a horse's dam is known as his or her "broodmare sire" or maternal grandsire. Khemosabi++++'s broodmare sire is Fadjur. Certain stallions are noted for their production of exceptional mares, so the broodmare sire position in a pedigree is one to consider carefully. Many significant breeding stallions are the grandsons of important broodmare sires, and Fadjur was certainly a fine broodmare sire, as is his grandson Khemosabi++++. The complete female side of a pedigree (including the broodmare sire, the dam, granddam and tail female line plus all the sires of those mares) is called the distaff side of the pedigree.

Linebreeding refers to the occurence of the same horse multiple times in the pedigree. In Khemosabi+++'s pedigree, there are two examples of linebreeding which appear in the pedigree chart in yellow. (There are other horses, such as Mesaoud and his son *Astraled, who appear multiple times in his background, but these are the ones that show on a six generation pedigree).

Khemosabi++++'s sire Amerigo is linebred to Kuhaylan Zaid, who is the paternal grandsire of the sire and dam of *Szarza. Khemosabi++++'s dam Jurneeka++ is linebred to Fadheilan, her double grandsire, and thus also to his parents, *Fadl and *Kasztelanka. Although it does not show on the chart, she also has two lines to Farana (sire of Farawi and of El Kumait in her pedigree). In Arabians, the terms "linebreeding" and "inbreeding" are used differently than in some other breeds. In Thoroughbreds, who have less occurence of linebreeding than Arabians, horses are termed "inbred on a coefficient" if a horse appears several times in the pedigree. "Inbred 2:3" means that the same horse appears once in the second and third generations. For Arabians, the term "inbred" would refer to a horse who is incest bred, the product of a sire/daughter, mother/son, or sibling mating, or a horse who hadmore than 2 lines to a particular ancestor in the first few generations of the pedigree.

Alice Payne of Asil Arabians in California focused her program on inbreeding to *Raffles. One of her mares, Celeste, was a *Raffles daughter out of a *Raffles daughter who herself was by *Raffles, making Celeste 87 1/2% *Raffles. By the time of Payne's death in 1969 her younger horses carried as many as 11 lines to *Raffles in the first six generations of their pedigrees. In more recent years, Sheila Varian has been inbreeding to her foundation stallion, U.S. National Champion Stallion Bay Abi++, with some of her horses carrying 3-4 lines to him in the first six generations of their pedigrees.

Originally in the desert family strain designation came from the dam line as a means to identify the tribe which bred a particular horse. Family strain is passed from generation to generation through the dam line, NEVER through the sire line. There were five main strains, (known in Arabic as "Al Khamsa"), said to trace directly to the mares of the Prophet Mohammed who, after being denied water for some time, turned back from water when a horn was blown indicating a forthcoming battle. The main strains are: Kehilan, Seqlawi, Muniqi, Dahman, and Hadban.

There are variant spellings for these--Kehilan can be spelled Kuhaylan, or Koheilan, and also these are the masculine versions of the strain names, the feminine ones having different forms as well. A horse who is of the Seqlawi Jedran of Ibn Sudan strain has a taproot mare bred by a tribe different than one of the Seqlawi al Abd strain. Since horses were exported from the desert to various countries, one finds the Seqlawi al Abd strain in America through the 1906 Davenport import *Wadduda, and the same strain in Spain through Zulima, who was imported to Spain in 1905. With the passing of time other main strains came into being, including the Abeyan, Jilfan, Shueyman, and Wadnan. The latter three are thinly represented in modern breeding, with the Shueyman known through one taproot mare in Poland for example (although this mare, Cherifa, founded a dam line that includes U.S. National Champion Stallion *Elkin++ and Swedish National Champion Stallion *Exelsjor). There are also many substrains of each of the major ones, some of which exist in modern breeding and some of which do not. In the first four volumes of the American stud book family strains were recorded for each horse, though this information was dropped from subsequent volumes.

As a result, tracking down all the family strains represented in a pedigree can be a tricky and involved process involving many reference sources. Khemosabi++++ is of the Seqlawi al Abd strain, while his sire is a Kehilan Dajania. The significance of family strains has been the subject of much dispute over the years. The writer Carl Raswan felt that the horses of the Muniqi strain was less pure, and therefore undesirable. (It should be noted that one of the greatest Crabbet dam lines, that of Ferida, is of the Muniqi strain, and the great sire Ferseyn, the paternal grandsire of Khemosabi++++ was of that family). Raswan felt that there were three basic strains that were also accompanied by a distinct physical type of horse. Kehilans were heavier in muscling, wide-chested and masculine of appearance, appearing more like a Morgan or Quarter horse (this included the mares). His concept for the Seqlawi was a slimmer, more elegant horse with a narrower head, which he later compared to be more like an American Saddlebred. His description of a typical horse of the Maneghi strain was a taller animal, coarser in appearance, faster in speed, and similar to the Thoroughbred in appearance.

The Darley Arabian was believed to be a Maneghi by Wilfrid Blunt, co-founder of England's Crabbet Stud, though his wife Lady Anne initially had guessed that Thoroughbred foundation sire to be of the Kehilan Ras El Fedawi strain (as was the Blunt import Wild Thyme, foundress of the dam line that produced U.S. National Champion Stallion Arn Ett Perlane+).

Arabian horse pedigrees can present a plethora of unfamiliar symbols. On the registration papers and pedigrees printed from the Arabian Horse Registry's "Bookshelf" CD-ROM, three or four letter abbreviations(as well as registration numbers) follow the horse names. These are the codes for the registry of origin for the particular horse. In Khemosabi+++'s pedigree, we find "AHR" for the American Arabian Horse Registry, "PASB" (for Poland), "GSB" (England's General Stud Book, which also registers Thoroughbreds), "RAS" (for Egypt's Royal Agricultural Society) "ASBB" (for Hungary's Babolna Stud), and "Egypt"(for horses bred in Egypt but at a private stud, in this case the stud of Prince Mohamed Ali). These symbols can give clues to the national origins of horses in the pedigree, but must be used with caution in determining whether a horse represents a certain bloodline group. For example, U.S. National Champion Stallion *Aladdinn was bred in Sweden (whose abbrevation is SWSB or SAHR), but he is considered pure Polish by pedigree as his sire and maternal grandparents were bred there.

Khemosabi++++'s dam *Szarza is considered pure Polish, but her pedigree contains horses from Hungary's Babolna Stud. Some other common abbreviations for foreign stud book origins are: AHSA (Australia), AHSB (Great Britain, although some horses up to 1964 were registered in both the Arab Horse Society Studbooks and the General Stud Book), AVS (the Netherlands), CAHR (Canada), DAV(Old German Stud Book), EAO (Egypt), GASB (Germany), RASB (Russia), SAHR (Sweden), and SSB (Spain). Another area of confusion is the use of asterisks before the name of an Arabian horse, as with *Szarza, *Raseyn, *Ferda, *Fadl, and *Kasztelanka in Khemosabi++++'s pedigree. The asterisk indicates the horse was imported to America. The Arabian Horse Registry of America used the symbol through the early 1980s, at which time their computer system was changed so the asterisk became a function key. Now imported horses are registered with the studbook of origin following their names.

Poland's Bandos became Bandos PASB in America in the official registry records after his 1982 importation. However, he is often mentioned as *Bandos, which is also correct usage since he was imported (there is an American bred Bandos also, foaled in 1940). An example of incorrect usage of the asterisk is often seen in horses who have been exported and then reimported, as was U.S. and Canadian National Champion Stallion Ali Jamaal, who has been referred to in print as *Ali Jamaal. Since he was born in America, the importation symbol should not be used.

Plus (+) and slash (/) symbols after the name of a horse indicates that the horse is a recipient of an I.A.H.A. merit award. I.A.H.A. initiated this program in 1965 to recognize participating horses who have consistently performed well. Initially, points were only earned in the show ring, but now distance riding, eventing, dressage, eventing, and racing also earn points for these awards. The first award offered was the Legion of Merit, for which a stallion or mare had to accumulate points in both halter and performance (a gelding could do so in either). Legion of Merit was initially represented by the + symbol, so if one is perusing older magazines a + after a horse's name would indicate the Legion of Merit award. Khemosabi++++'s dam Jurneeka++ would have one plus symbol following her name in older magazines or in the I.A.H.A. Yearbook. In 1980, the award system was expanded, and the Legion of Merit was symbolized as two plus symbols (++) while the single symbol indicated the Legion of Honor award, the first step in the program. Today, there are six different designations: Legion of Masters (++++), which Khemosabi++++ has, Legion of Supreme Merit (+++), Legion of Excellence (+//), Legion of Merit (++), Legion of Supreme Honor (+/), and Legion of Honor (+). Horses earning an award in the Honor, Supreme Honor, and Excellence divisions have won points in halter and/or performance. The Merit, Supreme Merit and Masters awards are given to horses who have earned a certain number of points in both halter and performance events. For complete information on the program, contact I.A.H.A.

Arlene Magid runs an Arabian horse pedigree research service in Louisville, Kentucky. She has written for the Arabian Horse World, the Arabian Horse Express, and the Arabian Horse Times. Nickers & Neighs appreciates the opportunity to feature this article. You can visit Arlene's site from our Links page

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