Why Buy Crabbet?
By Georgia Cheer
To properly answer that question, I tapped upon many of my resources. These include: the numerous close relationships with horse owners and breeders that I have established in my 23 years of Arabian horse ownership; my eight years of publishing experience in which I personally observed Crabbet Arabians in the U.S. and abroad (Great Britain, Australia, Ireland) via farm visits, attendance at specific Crabbet symposiums, conventions, Crabbet horse shows and Crabbet "Days"; and lastly, by attempting to answer this question myself 17 years ago when I began my quest to buy a purebred Arabian horse.
(pictured, Sumadi 1992 mare by Imad owned by Susan Murphy of Highfields Stud, Llechryd, Wales. She is predominantly Crabbet/Old English breeding)
A Breeding Program of Historic Proportions
Initially, if you desire to gain a proper perspective on the history of the Crabbet Arabian, you should read good books on this subject. The most outstanding and my personal favorite is The Crabbet Arabian Stud, Its History and Influence, by R. Archer, C. Pearson and C. Covey (published in 1978 by Alexander Heriot, Ltd.). In this excellent book, the Stud's history is examined in detail, from its beginnings in 1878, to its complete dispersal in the early 1960s.
In this book, you will learn that the Crabbet Arabian descended from Arabians bred at Crabbet Park Stud in England. The foundation horses of Crabbet Park Stud were selected directly from the Arabian desert by the Stud's founders, Lady Anne and Wilfrid Blunt. The Blunt's specifically travelled to the mid-east desert to find, purchase, and ship back the best Arabian horses available. The pedigree of each horse purchased was authenticated by the Bedouins, and included historic accounts of several of the horses heroic loyalty during the all too common tribal desert battles and wars. After the Blunt's death, the Stud passed onto their daughter, Judith, Lady Wentworth, who's mastery at breeding Arabians is well documented in history books.
The Crabbet breeding program created by the Blunt's and Lady Wentworth has greatly bolstered the quality of Arabian horses bred worldwide. Nearly all the world's Arabian horse breeding countries have been influenced by the Crabbet lines, including Poland, Canada, the U. S., Australia, and Spain. In fact, Crabbet horses have been sold to Italy, India, Argentina, Holland, South Africa, Pakistan, Mexico and Chile.
The Crabbet Value as an Outcross
In my opinion, the Crabbet Arabian is the "chicken stock" of bloodlines from which all good soups are derived. They have the exceptional value of being the best (and most reliable) blood from which to outcross. Prove it to yourself: try examining the pedigree of many national champion horses (halter or performance), or examine the pedigree of a horse that you admire. You will likely find that Crabbet blood is within their pedigree, quite often through the tail-female line. For example: if the horse is said to be Polish; see if he has Negatiw blood through *Naborr or *Bandos. If so, he traces back to Naseem, bred at Crabbet from Nasra by Skowronek. If the horse is said to be Russian; see if he has Priboj in the pedigree. Priboj was sired by Piolun out of the Crabbet bred mare, Rissalma. *Padron and *Salon are two other Russian Arabians that have Crabbet lineage. If the horse is Egyptian, most likely you will see Aswan (who is by Nazeer) or Nazeer in his background. Aswan's tail-female goes to Bint Rustem, a Crabbet bred mare. Nazeer's dam, Bint Samiha, was by Kazmeyn (also Kasmeen), the grandson of *Astraled, who was bred at Crabbet. These days, it is extremely difficult to find an Arabian that hasn't got a Crabbet horse for an ancestor (to their credit).
Qualities of the Crabbet Arabian
To this day, the foremost character trait of loyalty and devotion to his master in the Crabbet Arabian are still very much evident. They seem to thrive when owned by considerate, loving owners. These Arabians are unique in temperament; they are "people-lovers." They seem to have the magical power to "possess" their owners, enabling them to extract from their owners the same loyalty and dedication they so generously give. When I'm asked to describe the best feature of the Crabbet Arabian, I respond, "their temperament." Many young riders got their best start aboard a gentle Crabbet Arabian.
Crabbet Arabians are remarkably high-achievers. Ask them to respond to a request, and they try very hard to do it. They want to please their owners. This is why so many Crabbet line Arabians achieve high marks in the performance world. If you are looking for a super trail horse, race horse, first place endurance horse, top cutting, reining or stock horse, look for Crabbet breeding in the pedigree.
Crabbet Blood Has Survived Trying Times
If you were to dig further into Crabbet lines, you would find the most successful breeders have incorporated Crabbet blood into their herd. Most of these breeders survived the 1980s slump in the Arabian horse market. In your research, you may notice that many of the larger farms that started breeding pure Polish or pure Egyptian in the 1970s and 1980s have gone out of business. In today's market, you may have certainly noticed that there are less of these farms advertising in the all-color magazines. But where are the Crabbet breeders? Where they have always been, that is, steadfastly nurturing their horses. Perhaps they are breeding less, while selectively selling their horses to only "deserving" homes.
If you looked closely, you would find that there are many more small farms with Crabbet line Arabians than you thought possible. Although these small breeders or farms may not have huge advertising budgets to make them more noticeable, they have maintained value and consistency, and most evidently, the Arabian type, by not overbreeding. Thus, they have insured their chosen blood?lines continued success. It's as if these breeders were never affected by the Arabian market's crazed days in the late 70s and 80s. The Crabbet breeders held by their principles, by not switching from one bloodline to another and then back again to follow what is "in fashion." As such, they lost very little in comparison to the large farms who overproduced to gain profits. Crabbet breeders think in the long term and not the short haul. Crabbet Arabians are still the best (and proven) value for the money.
Preparing Yourself to Buy Selectively
What if you are new to Arabians, or considering your first Arabian horse purchase. What should you look for? What about all those pedigrees with strange or unfamiliar names? How to get through all this information?
My first piece of advice: examine your own tastes to discover in your own mind the "look" of the Arabian horse that you enjoy. Keep your "look" in mind as you examine prospective horses advertised in magazines. Usually it starts with how the head is shaped, the size of the eye, nose or ears, followed by your preference for color, and body style. With your ideal in mind, you can begin to formulate a clear objective, and keep your search selective. When I began my search for an Arabian horse, I found the "look" that appealed to me, which I soon discovered were horses of Crabbet lineage.
Before making a purchase, decide the things you want to do with your horse. Ask yourself: will you be trail riding; will you be involved with breeding, or will you have your horse compete in shows or competitions? Which classes: halter or performance? You should keep in mind that Crabbet line Arabians are very will known for their performance ability. Their disposition is well suited to withstand performance rigors, whether it be in the halter or performance ring or on the mountain trail.
Secondly, do your homework: study up on established breeders, horses, pedigrees and prices. The more you are aware of what is selling and for what price, the better you can assess your selection in today's market. Subscribe to the current Arabian horse magazines in circulation, read books, visit horse farms, ask questions, in short, become a "sponge."
My last piece of advice: consider seeking professional advice. This is very important, especially if you are not very knowledgeable with Arabian conformation or pedigrees. Choose an established breeder, horseman, researcher or trainer who has years of involvement in the Arabian horse field. This person should have a good reputation, and provide accurate, quick guidance at a nominal fee. This person could save you both time and money in your search to find the ideal horse. Please remember: you may have limited knowledge whereas the professional's knowledge of a horses conformation, its champion background, its influential ancestors, would help paint a better picture of the capabilities of your chosen horse (whether it be in performance and/or breeding). Their guidance can help to customize your choice on the correct horse to purchase, and it could even make the difference in your future happiness in becoming a horse owner.
Owning any Arabian horse should be a rewarding and pleasurable experience. There are many Arabian horses, of many bloodlines, in many price ranges, waiting to be purchased. Many of these Arabians would make good future horses for their new owners. Know the "look" you want; do your homework; seek professional advice, if necessary, and be selective. After all, you and your horse will be forming a mutually beneficial partnership for many years of fun and love.
So, from my experience, if you are looking for a wonderful Arab, with a people-loving disposition, who can not only give you love and loyalty, but has historically proven bloodlines, you should definitely buy CRABBET.