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Ad The request of Sir Bernard Altemberg , Significant reflection on Polish breeding with input from ASWAN blood with PALAS

 

Palas 1968 ( Aswan (EG) x Panel (SU) by Nil ( EG)

Breeder : Tiersk (RU)

To Answer : John Schiewe
 
I have been thinking deeply about Bernard’s invitation to contribute to the ongoing dialog about the preservation of a type of Polish Arabian that seems to resonate with a lot of people. Nonetheless, within this framework there still seems to be a lot of variability in terms of what the starting definitions and preferences are. I will confess to some frustration with the comments and actions of some others. Before I go further I will add this leavening comment: I am sure that if I personally encountered most of those posters personally at an Arabian event of some sort, our conversation would be vigorous, respectful and entertaining with good laughs shared by all, even if there were matters of taste in individuals and bloodlines that we didn’t share. So in that spirit, I apologize in advance, for communicating in this more impersonal format. While I have some fervently held beliefs, I am on a perpetual quest to add to my knowledge and hopefully I will always be capable of refining my thinking and improving my knowledge of the Arabian horse. So let me plunge in. Some years ago, on an Arabian chat forum, someone asked me if I considered myself a “pre-Palas preservationist breeder.” I don’t want to mention any names, but I’ll confess that Cindy really ruffled my feathers. With the passage of time, I think I can see the comment as less than a jab at me and more as a legitimate inquiry. Maybe the comment was more of a source of frustration to me, because I didn’t come out and own the situation and just say – “Hell yes, I’m a pre-Palas preservation breeder as anyone in their right mind would be, and thank you for coining the term.” During that initial exchange, I did say that I admired *Ganges, even though he had a line to Palas.
 

Ganges 1994 ( Monogramm (US) x Garonna (PL) by Fanatyk ( PL))

Breeder / Owner Michalow Stud

In fact my comment was very favorable since I said *Ganges was the best siring (Kuhailan) stallion at the time for Janow. Before continuing further with Palas, let’s step back one generation, to the factor which must be critically addressed in the most clear eyed fashion. Let’s talk about the sire of Palas, Aswan. This horse was a FAULT FACTORY! Who can forget the line drawings that GBE made which were shorthand references for what could be expected from the Russian foundation sires like Naseem, Arax, Priboj, etc.
   

ARAX 1958 ( Amurath Sahib (PL) x Angara (PL) by Wielki Szlem (PL))

Breeder Klemensow Stud (PL)

 

Priboj 1944 ( Piolun (PL) x Rissalma ( GB by Shareer ( GB)

Breeder Tiersk ( RU)

There was virtually no redeeming conformational feature that could be cited for Aswan. He had some traits worthy of note, i.e. the appearance of a level topline, pretty head and nice tail carriage. When experts like Dr. LaCroix and Zenon Lipowicz weigh in as they did in an article in AHW – June 1983 (entitled “The Influence of Polish Arabians on Horse breeding in the Soviet Union) it behooves us to pay attention. They introduce one other plus for Aswan, citing “good action”, but get a load of this summation: “even though he had a somewhat short neck, a soft back and faulty legs with weak knees and hocks and tied-in cannons.” Wow.

Aswan 1958 ( Nazeer ( EG) x Yosreia (EG) by Sheikh El Arab ( EG))

Breeder El Zahraa (EG)

 
 
Did I ever tell you how hot my date for the Junior Prom was once you got past her crossed eyes, buck teeth and bow-legs. By the way, I was very happy to see that an Aswan son was born at Tersk last year by utilizing frozen semen. There are a lot of reasons to be thrilled at the news. I just find it mystifying that the mare that bore the colt already had 5 crosses to Aswan. My own personal observation about horses with high concentrations of Aswan blood is that as they age, the weaknesses in their backs are SO apparent with wasted loins, shallow herring gutted appearances and just an overwhelming look of atrophy and disharmony. Why step away now? I have to reference the way in which the horses of Egypt of the early 20th Century were characterized by LaCroix and Zenowicz as well. Remember, this is the base that generated Aswan: “Arabians with such serious faults as soft toplines, shallow chests, poor legs and difficult dispositions were being produced there at an increasing rate”. What could a good representative of Polish breeding contribute? From the same source (LaCroix and Lipowicz) we have a description of the Polish born Arax, a son of Amurath Sahib, who made such a valuable contribution to the program at Tersk: “Of the Bairactar sire line, he had good bone and much substance, a good head with a large, black and expressive eye, and a long neck.

ARAX (PL) 1952 ( Amurath SAhib (PL) x Angara (PL) by Wielki Szlem (PL))

Breeder Klemensow Stud (PL)

 
Arax was well-bodied with strong, excellent quarters, a level croup with a well-set tail, and correct extremities. His disposition and temperament were excellent and he was prepotent for all these characteristics.” Before Arax went to Russia, where he exerted such a powerful influence, he did sire a handful of foals in Poland. There were three illustrious daughters left from this time. One of those was *Roktika who was subsequently imported by Denise Borg to the U.S. Borg was a great devotee of the Polish expert Dr. Skorkowski. As a side note Director Jaworowski was famous for giving Dr. Skorkowski a hard time over his breeding theories, but it’s been reported that it was in the form of good natured kidding as opposed to any sort of blood sport. Ms. Borg had not only the wondrous *Rokitka, but she also had one of Comet’s best sons, *Wiraz. I’m jumping a little ahead at this point, since I was also charged with making suggestions about how to breed better Polish Arabians. *Rokitka, *Wiraz and Borg prompt me to say “Have a take,” a position or standard to rally around. So many people who are just “Apers” of a season or two’s worth of fashions are so quick to jump from bandwagon to bandwagon. Even if you are making the soundest of breeding decisions, the odds of getting a foal that will be a splendid next generation replacement are so daunting. One must really be willing to stay the course in order to make progress. Remember, *Bask was the 9th foal from the Witraz/Balalajka cross. Not that Bandola and Arfa need be discounted when dealing in superlatives. I salute Ms. Borg because she bred *Wiraz to Rokitka year after year, resulting in 13 full siblings in 13 years. Her words about the influence of Aswan blood bear serious consideration: “By the early 1970’s, Poland again began to bring in ‘new blood’, this time from Big Brother Russia. In 1973, the Russian stallions Magnit, by the Egyptian Aswan, and out of the Polish mare Magnolia, Namiet, by the Negatiw son Salon and out of the Arax daughter Naturshitsa, and Palas, an Aswan son out of the ‘Russian’ Panel. Palas was to have the most lasting influence, his get winning a host of Polish, American and International titles. (Personally, I have never figured out why the Poles incorporated this breeding into their program. I suspect they thought, erroneously, that the crazy Americans were willing to buy any pretty or typey horse irrespective of conformation or leg faults, though in retrospect, it’s obvious that it was becoming necessary to bring in a new Siglavy line to cross on the Ibrahim, Ilderim and Bairactar lines.) After years of selective breeding usually to great mares of impeccable genetic strength, however, they made it work to their satisfaction, and obviously to the satisfaction of many people around the world. The Poles had begun breeding for the Market, however, and the most central concepts of a half century of breeding, changed forever. The way of selling Arabians changed also at the beginning of the 1970’s, with the public auction to be held each fall. I personally preferred the older generation of Polish horses, those bred prior to the seventies, utilizing pure Polish lines and a two century tradition of excellence. We may never see anything quite like those Arabians of the 50’s and 60’s, and I feel grateful to have been able to share that time with the world.” I am willing to say that Palas was a better horse than Aswan. His maternal grandsire Nil, was also Egyptian and arrived in Russia along with Aswan. It seems clear from pictures that Nil was a higher quality individual than Aswan, but he did not prove to be a consequential source of outcross blood for Russia, primarily due to his premature demise in contrast to Aswan’s lengthy breeding career. In addition, Palas’ maternal grandmother, Platina (*Pietuszok’s full sister) was from one of the top two families in Russian Arabian breeding history. Fortunately, for Aswan, not that he cared one way or the other, the opportunity to be bred to a number of high class Arax daughters and granddaughters would go a long way towards mitigating the numerous problems that Aswan brought to the table. I am sure that further discussions about the relative values of various pedigrees will be of a more nuanced variety, but to me, it seems clear that Aswan must still be considered with a very jaundiced eye.

to Answer : Kaitya Orlov...

Second, to all who attempt to mimic Polish breeders and that is how you define yourself as a "Polish Breeder" I have two points to make. First, breeding is a skill, an art and a sixth sense. Just as you can own horses and never be a horseman, you can breed and never be a breeder. The complexity of genetics is far beyond the scope of most all people. That said, mimic attempts will always fall short because no two individuals are exactly alike. Two *Bask sons will NEVER produce the same bc *Bask is only ONE horse in the pedigree and how pedigrees blend is the key to understanding breeding. Which genetic strengths and flaws from each individual from each generation proved most dominant? Going back to the original post again, most all people state side overlooked the multiple crosses to Aswan bc "Aswan was so important" and although they know nothing truly about him, he must be ok bc 'breeders' think he is. Well, that's asinine bc how many people really know what TRUE, GIFTED breeders think? Hardly any. Knowing these things requires intensive study of EACH individual and how they were producing each and every cross. For example: before choosing Tornado as my favorite *Bask son, I studied nearly all of his get, there dams and what was seen consistently. This is a study that takes years before it's solid bc each mare having born his get has to be dissected as well. It's why you have individuals who may not win National Championships or be the best individual but are breeding shed super stars. *El Hilal would be a superior example here. He was a genetic powerhouse, and never the best horse in the ring. The consistency seen on many different crosses was astounding from him. Truly, he was an anomaly in breeding. It may not happen again in my lifetime. Furthermore, why is Gazal so important? How many people can answer that?!? What particular line is so important there? AND WHY? What's here state side that could begin to mimic that ?!? The Polish breeders have an advantage because this level of study is their way of life. It's not that they are gods of Arabian breeding, it's that knowledge is power and they study intently. They also have well balanced foundation stock and a massive cull!! These are advantages hardly anyone has. American breeders couldn't find their ass with a map! Our horses that should have been culled are listed in our US National lineup bc people lose their ass breeding and try anything to make money, hopelessly. Dear Lord, do you think you'd ever seen the likes of legs in our Top Ten in any managed program? I digress...

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